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A swearing that asserts the truth of a statement or promise, typically in the name of God. An oath is often made formally and solemnly. For example, a witness at a trial may swear that his or her testimony will be the full truth. Similarly, one who takes an oath of office swears to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the office. The taking of oaths was criticized by Jesus, who urged in the Sermon on the Mount, "Do not swear at all," not by heaven or the earth or Jerusalem or by one's own head (Mt 5:33-37). This teaching is repeated in Jas 5:12. Since early Christian times, some have interpreted this teaching literally and refused to take oaths. A rigorist refusal to swear oaths was the predominant Christian attitude in the early centuries of the church. This position against oaths has been continued in modern times by Christian groups such as the Mennonites and Quakers. In many courts today, those with scruples against taking an oath are allowed to affirm (without swearing) that they will tell the truth. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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