There are many answers to confirm that people may have the right to avoid swearing if they are not Christian. For Christian, Bible is ok but not necessary. Others can use "affirm" instead of "swear". These answers are all about "do not have to" and "are allowed to".

However, can a believer actively request to swear to a holy symbol of his religion? For example, if I declare that I am a Pastafarian and request to swear to a colander, will it be considered as contempt of court?

Of course we know The Flying Spaghetti Monster rejects dogma and does not care about its member believe or not, but Pastafarians often challenged laws in humour way. Or similarly a man request to swear to a portrait of a cat because he believes the world is actually a cat playing with Australia (a famous meme of world map). I add some limits to the object.

  • It is a common item. A portrait instead of live cat and a colander instead of hot spaghetti.
  • It is self carried. The guy just takes out it unobtrusively and use it. He will not waste extra time if no one try to interrupt.
  • The object is not overtly evil and offensive. Perhaps it's kind of confusing for someone and make it a little bit funny. The religion is well known, may have controversy, but is generally not an illegal cult.
  • This happens in America.

I am mainly looking for documented basis for this possibility if there is any rule, or just the judge thinks the item will destroy the solemnity is enough. The precedent can also be accepted. Maybe other unusual objects are just banned on equal terms except Bible?

Related question: Someone wants to change the traditional oath. It seems like many people are interested in taking an unusual step. Just for possibility.

  • The premise is that one gabs is on something when being sworn in to testify in court. I think this is false. You just raise your right hand and answer in the affirmative when asked if you swear or affirm to tell the truth etc Feb 2 at 6:14
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    @George White Yes I know the Bible is not necessary. But at least the request of Bible will not be refused, right?
    – Krahmal
    Feb 2 at 6:20
  • I do not know that answer. If it is not needed by the normal process it might be seen as time wasting or trying to show something about the character of the witness not actually in evidence in order to influence a jury. Feb 2 at 6:23
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    Generally, if you make it known in advanced that you would like to swear an oath on a different sacred text, it's a reasonable enough accommodation that the court will allow it. You may have to provide your own copy. Raising the issue for the first time when your called to witness stand would likely get a different response, since it's not reasonable to expect the text to be on hand OR to stop the testimony. An affirmation is a belief neutral but legally has the same effect of swearing an oath and thus satisfies the court.
    – hszmv
    Feb 2 at 14:23
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    I've never seen anyone swear on any book or object in court or in a deposition or when swearing an oath before a notary in an affidavit or in a bar admission or citizenship ceremony in 28 years as a lawyer. Usually, a judge will say "raise your hand." The only time I've seen it done is in swearing in ceremonies for public officials.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 2 at 17:38


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