April 30 in freethought history…

washingtonoathApril 30, 1789 – George Washington is sworn in as the first President of the United States of America. While it has become traditional for presidents to tack on “so help me God” after the official oath of office, it is uncertain that Washington did so. No contemporary sources mention Washington making this addition; some modern commentators insist that adding “so help me God” to oaths was so common in those days that for Washington not to have done it would have been noteworthy. It is also possible that the oath was read to him in the form of a question (“Do you, George Washington, solemnly swear…?”) and that Washington simply replied “I do.” Some reports indicate that Washington bent to kiss a Bible after being administered the oath by Chancellor of New York (and co-drafter of the Declaration of Independence) Robert Livingston. The first reliable contemporary evidence of any president adding “so help me God” to his oath of office comes from 1881, when Chester A. Arthur was sworn in after the assassination of James Garfield.

April 30, 1976 – The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) is founded in Buffalo, New York, by a group of luminaries that included Paul Kurtz and Carl Sagan. In 2006, CSICOP changed its name to the less unwieldy Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

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