After 16 years of leadership from Angela Merkel, Chancellor Olaf Scholz is now the new leader of Germany, and in one of his first acts — taking the oath of office — he did something that would be downright radical in the U.S.
He decided not to say “So help me God” at the end.
When Mr. Scholz omitted the final four words — “so help me God” — of the traditional oath, it was rare for a new German chancellor. But it was not a first for Mr. Scholz: The oaths he took as mayor of Hamburg in 2011 and as finance minister in 2018 were also nonreligious.
The new chancellor was baptized as a Protestant as an infant but later formally left the church. Asked a week before September’s election by the tabloid Bild what he believed in, Mr. Scholz replied: “That we humans are responsible for one another. That we need to be just with one another. Call it solidarity of loving one’s neighbor. These values of Christianity have marked me a lot.”
So the omission wasn’t particularly surprising coming from Scholz, but it’s also worth noting he felt no need to cave under any sort of political pressure to say the words anyway. The phrase is optional, and Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, did the same thing when he was sworn into office.
And no one seemed to make a huge deal out of it — at least not from the highest levels of government, anyway. While Germany has its own problems and priorities, at least in this particular case, people are treating it like the interesting-but-non-issue that it is. There’s no need to get worked up about it. It’s not anti-religious; it’s just not necessary. The mentality seems to be: Let’s get to the work we were elected to do. Just as it should be.
(Featured screenshot via the New York Times)