Clash of Cultures-Which Side America?

As those in the Middle East are dying at the hands of those who believe they are doing Gods bidding, President Barack Obama's Prayer Breakfast speech must have brought comfort to those who ordered the killings. Atheists in America do not face fatwas or assassinations, yet we behave as is we do-passively accepting proclamations by the leaders of both of our political parties that are the essence of religious dogmatism. We defend the Democratic leader of the "reality party" who seems to support rationality, yet his words undercut the philosophical principles that support such views.

It is important to make a distinction between two terms, "atheist" and "secularist." The first is a personal view based on one's deepest emotions and identity that I agree has no place in political life.  Yet, "atheist" certainly is as an epithet that will generally end the political career of anyone so candid as to admit to this belief.  "Secularist" on the other hand defines a government, as it can be usefully defined as an affirmation that any law, any policy, any social principle either advocated or opposed will not be based on a a truth that is seen to be revealed by a higher non human being whose word is not to be challenged.

By this definition, John F. Kennedy was a secularist in spite of his being a devout Catholic, based first on his inaugural statement, "Here on earth, God's work must surely be our own." In practice, during the Cuban Missile crisis when the fate of the world was on his shoulders, there is no report of his turning to God for advice or for assurance of his decisions.

Conversely, George W. Bush was neither an atheist or a secularist-and illustrates the extreme danger of such faith based personal beliefs becoming a part of government action,  as described in detail in this article on Bob Woodwards book, "Plan of Attack," on the decision to go to war in Iraq:

Having given the order, the president walked alone around the circle behind the White House. Months later, he told Woodward: "As I walked around the circle, I prayed that our troops be safe, be protected by the Almighty. Going into this period, I was praying for strength to do the Lord's will. I'm surely not going to justify war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, in my case, I pray that I be as good a messenger of his will as possible. And then, of course, I pray for forgiveness."
Did Mr. Bush ask his father for any advice? "I asked the president about this. And President Bush said, 'Well, no,' and then he got defensive about it," says Woodward. "Then he said something that really struck me. He said of his father, 'He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice. The wrong father to go to, to appeal to in terms of strength.' And then he said, 'There's a higher Father that I appeal to.'"
This example of the two Presidents deciding on war or peace is telling, as it explores how the mode of thinking, atheist versus Godly, one's most personal existential religious belief-does interact with Government.  This is where terminology matters, words such as faith, atheism, religious, or spiritual-all have various connotations that while often used loosely, are quite relevant in political life.  By the way, "agnostic" to me simply means it's not an issue that I want to discuss)

Atheists are the most reviled group in America according to Pew research and the note below, so in the last decade only a single member of Congress has self identified as such.  Since surveys show at least ten percent do claim to be atheists, in effect to be elected to public office, one must dissemble, lie about this most basic element of their identity.  At the very least this imposes a unexamined entrance barrier for elected officials, that based on statistical probability a meaningful proportion must be prepared to dissemble, to lie to the voters who elect them to office.  Thus cynical opportunism among the most broadly enlightened becomes a perverse condition of public service.

Skillfulness in making the case of being the most extreme believer, the strongest anti-atheist becomes a requirement for electoral success.  This is more so in general for Republicans as shown in this example of the campaign speech turning the symbolic Pledge of allegiance into a personal prayer by nominee Mitt Romney  reviewed here.

Last week President Obama gave a speech at the National Prayer breakfast that by his exclusion, has made clear what it means to be secular, an atheist in America.  Writing about it here is a pale response, so I have been thinking about acting  on my convictions, to make use of our birthright of constitutional protections and specifically California's non partisan nomination procedures. I state it here as a reminder to myself, to goad me into political action.

In this country both of our two political parties convey either passive or active hostility to our Constitutionally defined secular government. In many ways Republicans are more honest, espousing reverence for God and/or Jesus Christ explicitly in campaigns and even state party platforms. It is the Democratic party that attempts to win the votes of both those who revere and those who reject religious dogma. Obama's Prayer Breakfast speech provides a clear expostulation of his deep theological views that have so far gone un-rebutted by leaders of the Democratic party.

While supporters may dismiss the words as mere pandering politics, as someone who will never face another election this argument fails; his words must be seen as more than this. The entire speech is available here in text, and in video, for individual analysis. I will focus only on his treatment of inclusion of those with "no faith," to consider whether it was supportive of an embattled group who must conceal their ethical principles to gain elected office.

Here's the section towards the closing of his speech:

As President, sometimes I have to search for the words to console the inconsolable. Sometimes I search Scripture to determine how best to balance life as a President and as a husband and as a father. I often search for Scripture to figure out how I can be a better man as well as a better President. And I believe that we are united in these struggles. But I also believe that we are united in the knowledge of a redeeming Savior, whose grace is sufficient for the multitude of our sins, and whose love is never failing.
He attempts to make a shift, to include in this speech that has stated clearly not only his relation to God but that of "we" the American people.  Most striking to me was when he alluded to the event only weeks ago, "When I took the sacred oath of office."  It may be sacred to him, but it is not a sacred oath of office; it is specifically and clearly a secular oath of office, with his personal coda, "so help me God,"  given as a man not as a president reciting the constitutional oath of office that excludes this.

He then tried to address those whom he so clearly excluded in this audience, those who were atheists, non believers, (and non-Christians) who do not get the comfort and assurance that he finds from from the Almighty.
And most of all, I know that all Americans -- men and women of different faiths and, yes, those of no faith that they can name -- are, nevertheless, joined together in common purpose, believing in something that is bigger than ourselves, and the ideals that lie at the heart of our nation’s founding -- that as a people we are bound together.
Actually, we of no faith in a higher being have many names for what we do believe.  Some call it humanism, meaning that the work of what other's call God must surely be made our own, and others call it a force of nature that we have no need to give a purpose to, as it just is the way things are.  We do have names for this, and atheist is one of them, as it free thinker, agnostic....a whole host of them from many times and places, most specifically among those who founded our nation under the term of Deism.

We do not get comfort from a higher father who justifies a war against a middle eastern country that never did pass the test of rationality; nor would we have gotten heavenly encouragement for bombing launching pads in a small Caribbean country that probably would have led to a world wide cataclysm.

Atheists are despised for many reasons, perhaps one being because we are timid, fearful of expressing our views in a world that doesn't understand who we are.  We are not out to destroy other's beliefs in higher beings or eternal life, as this Atheist concludes such thinking may even be an integral part of our humanity.  We must demand our rights to to be part of the American public, to promulgate the values that only come from eschewing the illusion that such an almighty being actually does oversee human events.  America must become secular, and be a beacon of such mentality to the world, while at the same time vouchsafing individual right to believe in what they desire.

This, not religiosity, is the foundation of this country.


Full article 2006, University of Minnesota on hostility towards atheists compared to other groups, Atheists As “Other”: Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society  

Immigration Reform


It looks like Congress is making progress on this front as described in this editorial in the N.Y. Times.   This is an expansion of a comment that appeared there.

I have a good friend, an Anglo who is a botanical consultant for a Baja California ranch commuting from his San Diego home. He works regularly, and has close relationships, with the workers there that provides a unique insight that informs what I write here.

It is illusory to think there is any solution to the osmotic forces that impels those of third world countries to seek greater prosperity of a first world country. My friend tells me how his compadres, (he speaks fluent Spanish) track U.S. immigration proposals closely, and whenever there is talk of a path to citizenship they think more seriously about coming here, of course illegally. Such proposals stoke the expectation that it could, even after decades, mean living in their dream society.

All the grand complex solutions proposed by Congress are ultimately illusory. Borders that define nations only exist to separate different societies and cultures. These lines are inherently cruel and unjust, as there is no ethical justification to support that those born a hundred feet to the south of a line should live in greater deprivation.

A starker example is the border of the Mediterranean Sea, the ultimate barrier between the abject suffering of much of Africa with the affluence of Europe, even now during a long term recession.  This drive, I call it "osmosis" as it is best understood as a force of nature, is so powerful that even the probability of death does not deter large numbers from embarking on a low survivability voyage-- even to live in prison in the Isle of Crete. ( Older link, more recent one not located. )

True Libertarians understand this, so do not believe in borders at all, only free enterprise. Few who think through the consequences of this are so eager to really implement this as a policy.  Let us at the least realize the inherent social realities at play. And with AHA, a type of universal health care, not only will illegal border crossing be increased, but the cost benefit equation will foster accepting even a higher risk.

We could, of course, seek integration with Mexico, as West Germany did with their communist brethren. The cost was astronomical and they had the advantage of a common language and history.  If we are up to this with our southern neighbors, lets advocate it.

But please, no illusions about ethical fair solutions. They don't exist.

Buchanan and Lincoln-the coming of the War

This is a review of the book, "Lincoln, The Decision for War" by Russell McClintock.  My earliest realization that there was an alternate view of the greatness of Abraham Linclon was, when walking home from first grade, Johny Panholzer  said, "My Grandmother hates him because he freed the slaves."  This was in a white school in Washington D.C. in 1946, so his grandmother just may have heard this from a father who wore the uniform of the Confederacy.

Historiography describes the changes in  how historians and the public view past eras, actors and events. While this book is an unbiased recounting of these elements rather than a polemic, it describes how these two men faced the same crisis of impending secession, one a lame duck President, the other a President-elect, during the fateful sixteen weeks between election and inauguration.  In considering this one aspect of Buchanan's presidency alone, the author states (pp 205) After Lincoln's first week in office being finally briefed on the reality of the crisis, " Whether Lincoln knew it or not, in practical terms the policy he marked out was quite similar to Buchanan's."

It contrasts the new fragile anti-slavery Republic party which would control national policy under Lincoln, and the current bifurcated Democratic party, actually the individual who was elected by this party, James Buchanan who was required to actually make decision with not only limited information, but inability to convey specific orders by an incomplete telegraph system.  Now Lincoln after his innauguaration was in his seat where reality, and the limits of action, caused such a shock that he almost physically collapsed within the first month.

James Buchanan may be the worst president ever, but not for his actions during this period.  The calculation should never be the outcome of his presidency, how he failed to act boldly to head off the civil war, but the conditions of his times, for instance that the consensus legal opinion was that a state had a constitutional right to secede.  He should no more be vilified for the war that followed his presidency than F.D.R. should be condemned for not preventing the growth of fascism that lead to America's involvement in WWII.

Both men were the products of all that went before them, from the compromise of slavery enshrined into our Constitution to the evolving economics of labor intensive cotton crops that at the time was predicated on slave labor.  Before this the explosion of popularity of sugar, meant that since it could only be cultivated in the tropics by intensive destructive labor fueled the growth of chattel slavery capture and importation from Africa. Politics followed this, driving a wedge between the two sections of our country, that during the short period of this book came to what was to be a irresolvable head.  Lincoln who is known as "The Great Emancipator" tried his best to never have earned such a title, as the strongest imperative among most Americans, based on analysis of votes, and the words of the President elect was to reach a compromise that would preserve the Union.

For the reader like myself with limited detailed knowledge of this period, assumptions fall in clumps.  Lincoln, far from the steadfast leader whose views were rooted in his deepest beliefs, was vacillating between compromise and war during this period, depending on his audience.  He could be the compromiser, putting preservation of the union first to the satisfaction  of his surrogate in D.C, William H. Seward, while his next speech made demands that defied the sentiment of the deep south, and would make reconciliation impossible.  Also, unknown was that even during his oath of office half of Congress had adjourned, and only the Senate remained to confirm his nominees for his cabinet,  giving the President plenary authority over war or peace.

Unlike Buchanan, Lincoln was elected to deal with this crisis, yet had a mixed mandate of a party with a wide range of sentiments that he had to hold together, while also trying to preserve the union.  McClintock alludes to the transformation of political party, and how this is the backbone of a republican system at times for good and other times impeding the possibilities of solutions.  He also goes into some detail on the media of the day, how public sentiment was swayed by the penny newspaper just as effectively as Cable News and the Internet does in our own day.

The book does describe the drama of the four months covered with such realism that I was hoping for an ending that differed from what happened, but it was not to be.   Russell McClintock has managed to convey this complex narrative in readable  unvarnished language that shows Lincoln and Buchanan as part of a chain of events over which they had limited control.  Real people, real life, real events, and irresolvable tensions- seismic stresses that had reached the point of cataclysmic rupture, that could no more be prevented than the great earthquakes that shatter civilizations

So Help You God?

"While every inaugural speech is different, crafted for the unique challenges of the new administration, the thirty five words of the presidential oath of office have been spoken identically since the first one in April of 1789. That oath completes the long process of primaries, convention, campaign, and election, but not as most people understand it. The final words of the oath refer to the man-made document that bestows the mantle of head of government on a single person with a vow to, ".....protect and defend the constitution of the United States." Yet, in the memories of all now alive, the oath concludes with, "So help me God."

In December of 2008 Chief Justice John Roberts was personally served with a complaint signed by Mike Newdow to enjoin his doing what others had long done in the prompting of the oath of office. Roberts must have known immediately that the injunction was valid,(even though eventually dismissed on narrow grounds) as he himself had recently taken his own oath to protect that constitution that clearly spelled out the words of the oath , and no tradition of error could justify an exception. His legal counsel brought up the question to the President elect, who requested that the four word prayer be appended as is traditional. But this did not solve Robert's quandary of administering an oath to defend and preserve a document that in the very next breath is breached.

At some point Justice Roberts came up with a solution that would preserve tradition while following the constitution, and decided to keep this to himself. What Justice Roberts did was to prompt the oath, the thirty five constitutional words, exactly as the president-- then elect, was required to say them. And when the formal oath was completed, without skipping a beat, changing the tonality from statement to the question, "So help you God?" by this, demarcating the required oath from the optional personal statement. Knowing that this was not going to be an easy thing to coordinate with an unprepared oath taker, he still decided not to do a rehearsal with Mr. Obama. It is no wonder that he flubbed what seemed like a simple one minute recitation.

While this change of a single word went unnoticed, it affirmed something central to our democracy-- that one's faith, no matter how important to the individual, is not to be part of the secular structure of our government. What this also illustrates is that this removal of God from the oath may only be done so subtly as to go unnoticed--by the mere substitution of a single word and change of inflection of the prompting.

While time marches on history repeats itself, even if in different forms in different places. At the moment of this inauguration there are protests in the streets of Cairo over this issue of church and state that was decided by our founders over two centuries ago. The rioters express the deep resentment toward their new government that they fear could lead to a tyranny of the religious majority, having no secular Constitution such as ours to prevent it. It also specifies a presidential oath, unlike ours one that begins with, "I swear by Almighty God"

The inaugural ceremony will include two prayers, which in the recent past have been to God or Jesus, which reflect the cultural values of our majority. The oath of office is different; it is the work of mere mortals who created a document that achieved its purpose of getting every state to sign on, and just as in today's Congress, those who passed it must have been disturbed by the compromises that they had to accept.

Yet, with all its flaws there is also genius there. The newly sworn president certainly may ask God's help, but as an individual rather than part of an official action. Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed this in a very quiet way four years ago, as I expect he will repeat on Monday. It is important at this time that the meaning of this be told, as those in distant corners of the world should take courage from our own secular Constitution that has protected the great diversity of beliefs that have thrived under its banner. It should be a model that is available for countries who are struggling to find their way.
My Video of Capital Oath in 1/4 speed, "Did Obama nod yes"
Update 1/20/13 Video of private oath-Roberts follows this new tradition
Reference Addendum

References on Presidential Oath article

January 20, 2013-
Updates as needed-as of now this is a work in progress

This article is written to extend and provide references for the essay,Presidential Oath of Office-to God or Country.    

Sections are:
Meaning of secularity in President's oath only
Lawsuit Newdow v. Roberts et al-2008
Media Distortions
Wikipedia- to come

Why only the President?

While I have imputed great meaning to the subtle signal by Roberts that the Presidential oath does not contain reference to God, we have also just had the oath taking by the Vice President, as shown here.

This was concluded,  as had been previously for the President, with the prompting of "So help me God," being in the exact same assertive repetition that had been traditional for he President.  Yet, in this case, this is not a breach of the constitution, as the oath for every office but President is by statute.  No one can be required to take such an oath, as the Constitution prohibits any religious test for public office, but only the President is protected against social pressure to adhere to a faith in God by there being a secular prescribed oath.

A search of the Internet showed no discussion of this at the Constitutional convention or the Federalist Papers.  Given the immersion of the inaugural ceremony in prayers and references to God, the slight hint that it is not part of the Presidential oath of office may seem like a firecracker during a military siege. Yet, the symbolism remains of this particular prescribed oath.

Given that surveys show that atheists constitute at least 10% of Americans, perhaps considerably more, combined with the last overt atheist leaving Congress, its fair to say the the universal support of "under God" in the Pledge means that at least 40 of these elected officials are being less than candid. It is exceedingly unlikely that we will have an overt atheist elected to the presidency in the life times of anyone reading this.  Since, like Obama, anyone elected President, no matter what his/her deepest convictions, will present a religious persona, they must continue the tradition of the prayer appended to the constitutional oath.

This makes Roberts actions, as limited as it may be, the most that can be hoped for at this time.  Presidents must get elected, and do so many times before ever getting close to the office.  They must answer to the press and to the people, while a Supreme Court Justice needs to do none of this.  So, it was a person in this position who did what he could to hearken to the original intent of the founders for a secular government.

So, no cheers for secularists, who still must sing with the choir if a political career is chosen.  And speaking for them, we can be thankful that thy no longer need to be quite as complicit in going along with what is a formal secular government that is as of now one that is steeped in prayerful reverence for God Almighty.  

This is the original suit of filed 12/30/08, was a broad demand to eliminate the many religious prayers included in the inauguration, article 1 relating to the oath of office.  It was rejected and then appealed to the ninth circuit court of appeals as described below.

This is the text of the appeal decision, that affirmed the district court rejection.  In its entirety it outlines the thrust of Newdow's legal efforts relating to the First Amendment Establishment Clause, that is now in its second decade.  This was an appeal to reverse the ruling of the district court to reject the arguments against inclusion of religious aspects of the inauguration ceremony

Page 9 of the decision describes the limits of courts to act.  The courts are not empowered to do what is "right"

It is a basic constitutional requirement that a dispute before a federal court be “an actual controversy ......This rule assures that “federal courts are presented with disputes they are capable of resolving,”

Mike Newdow is a certified Emergency Room Physician, who studied law to pursue his particular interests that include the subject that he has become known for, encapsulated in the phrase, "separation of church and state." While, as we know, our courts are a central venue for social change, they are always in tension with that other channel, the political system in all its messy complexity.

Newdow became a national figure in 2002 in his attempt to remove, "under God" from the pledge of allegiance, which did get to the Supreme Court where he argued his point.  He has initiated several other suits, including the one focused on here, that have always been unsuccessful.  This was not because they lacked merit, but rather that they were on the wrong side of that other important "separation" that of court and politics.  I use the word politics in its largest sense, that of the chain of values, norms, opinions and demands that reside in the interaction between opinion leaders, including elected officials, and the general public.

Judiciary branches of government, while having absolute power to negate the actions of the executive and legislative branches are aware of the tenuousness of this authority. Historically, in spite of formal constitutional mandates, it is understood that if they go too far, they could lose authority or worse.  This is why eliminating racial segregation was a half century long process of hundreds of cases in the lower courts, finally culminating in Brown. v. Board of Education.  Even after all of this groundwork, the unanimous decision brought a violent reaction across the country with demands for impeachment of the Chief Justice.

In my personal discussion with Mr. Newdow, I made the point that while  components of the inauguration ceremonies do have a religious element, the attempt have the courts enjoin them was unrealistic for the reasons just described.  I noted that only in the oath of office was there a specific breach of the letter of he law, the exact wording of the oath in Article 2, Section 1, including the only option allowed, to substitute "swear" with "affirm."

The ninth circuit decision linked above ruled against the appeal based on specific rules of "standing" and more general rules that place limits on what can be adjudicated.  I will argue below that elements of this decision were factually and logically inaccurate.

pp12 of Decision

Plaintiffs do not claim President Obama’s recitation of“So help me God” at the conclusion of his oath injured them.The President cannot be denied the prerogative of making such a religious reference, they concede, because doing so would abrogate his First Amendment rights.

For sure, if it were otherwise, George Washington could not have begun the tradition by appending “So help me God” to his own oath; Lincoln could not have offered a war-weary nation “malice toward none” and “charity for all [] with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right”; Kennedy could not
have told us “that here on earth God’s work” must be our own; nor could President Reagan have evoked “the shining city . . .built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace” in his farewell address. Instead, plaintiffs claim they
are injured because “God” was referenced by the Chief Justice and the prayer leaders in the course of the 2009 ceremony.

 That quoted above is the most egregious of casuistry.  It conflates a specific demand that the United States Constitution be adhered to, in this case in the recitation of specific words, never elsewhere defined in the entire document. It then ignores the meaning of  deviation from this single statement defined by such authoritative instructions, treating like other speeches by eminent Presidents, that the appellants have never argued should be proscribed. The appellant and the court agree on first amendment rights of Presidents that are only to be restricted by constitutional limitations, as unquestionably exist for this particular oath--and, parenthetically, none others.

They are also in error in citing the first use of the prayerful four word appendage to George Washington's first inauguration, a fact disputed by historians and thus having no place as a citation in this case. Beyond this factual error is one of law, even if this were factual, the Constitution may only be revised by amendment, not by erosion by continuous error, no matter its provenance.

These references, they argue, might have misled the uninformed to think the imprimatur of the state had been placed on the invocation of the Almighty and contributed to a social stigma against them as atheists. 

This sentence ignored the specific complaint against the addition of the four word prayer in the Oath of Office,  the correction of which is separable from the larger argument against the religious overtones of the inauguration ceremony.  Personally, I have done informal surveys, and almost all responses to my query of the last phrase of the oath of office of the president is, "so help me God."   While the ninth court of appeals ignored this, I believe that Chief Justice John Roberts did not.

We now come to the most relevant paragraph of this appeals court decision:

We will assume, without holding, that plaintiffs’ claimed injury is an injury in fact and that it can be fairly traced to the conduct of the defendants. It is in the third element, redressability, where we find two problems with plaintiffs’ case for standing.

The court thus acknowledges that plaintiff has, in fact, been injured by the officials conducting the oath of office, yet it says that they could do nothing to redress this.  Without personal expertise in constitutional law, I cannot challenge this conclusion.

What has happened in response to the specific demand that the oath of office be the exact thirty five words of the constitution, without any reference to the establishment clause at all, is that Justice Roberts as attempted to redress this claim that the existing administration of the oath,  misled the uninformed to think the imprimatur of the state had been placed on the invocation of the Almighty. 

There can be no doubt, confirmed by surveys, that the traditional taking of the oath of office by identical words of prompter and oath taker, often preceded by, "Are you ready to take the constitutional oath of office?" did mislead the public.
It matters not that the deviation was in a prayer to God, or words expressing an ideal of social justice, or of maintaining individual liberty.  Any deviation from the specific words do not complete the process of installation of a President of the United States.  The oath to defend and protect the Constitution, certainly includes protecting its specific instructions, which requires no standing to enforce at all, or else bestows standing on every citizen of this country.

Justice Roberts, by asking the oath taker whether he desires to conclude with "so help me God" has addressed this appropriately, but only if it becomes public knowledge, which it has not in the four years since he first initiated it in 2009. His prompting has affirmed the constitutional rule of law, and the founders intent that this nation, under the Constitution, be one of secular values that include the protection of religious expression.
Media Distortions

A search of the Internet shows no analysis of Robert's modification.  There were isolated mentions after the 2008 oaths of office of the last phase being a question, but no reason ever given for it.  My personal attempt was mostly limited to political web sites and Wikipedia, which will be described in a separate section.

Today there is this article on Huffington Post,,that while covering the same issue, has errors and ignores the specific issue covered here.  Among the errors are this,

"Although the phrase was used in federal courtrooms since 1789, the first proof it was used in a presidential oath of office came with Chester Arthur's inauguration in September 1881. Every president since, including Obama, has followed suit." 

Chester Arthur's did use the four words, but not as part of the oath of office, something I discovered from the archives of the New York Times-as I describe in the Wikipedia section below.  There were no recordings of the exact words of the oath before such technology of the twentieth century, as newspapers simply reported the oath was administered, without further elaboration.  There is simply no way of knowing whether or not these words were used in the absence of such reportage.

The Huffington article is mentioned not for specific criticism, but  that it reflects the absence of analysis of this breach of constitutional law in legal or mass publications.

The actual history of the oath, from the earliest recording of Franklin Roosevelt, shows that none of them would have given any hint that the final four words were not part of the constitutional oath.   The one exception which is included in this video of all extant oaths, is that administered by Chief Justice Warren Berger to Ronald Reagan in 1981. He did change to the second person, "so help you God." But unlike Roberts there was no change of inflection, but a continuation of a statement. 

In addition there is no indication that this was an intentional response to these words not being part of the constitution, as he did not do this change in grammatical person when he administered the oath to Jimmy Carter previously.
For anyone who cares to listen, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, has gone as far as can be expected to show the world that our Presidential oath of office is secular.

------What follows is a draft, that is being left open as it is being revised-----

Introduction to editor of local newspaper of OpEd submission:

Maybe a billion people will view the Presidential Oath of Office either live or recorded, yet only you and a few others will be aware of the slight change made by the Chief Justice in administering this oath during the last inauguration--and why it matters. It will take about two minutes for you to listen to the audio of this oath taken after the miscues on the Capitol steps the day before. The simple question for you is whether the last four words, "so help me God" were posed as a question. You will also notice that what went before Roberts used the first person, to be repeated exactly by the President; and then he changed the final phrase to a question.

You can google or research the issue, but the reason, and even the fact of this change between the two parts, the first thirty five words and the last four are not to be found anywhere. They were not accidents, as they were repeated twice by Justice Roberts.

This is from the article Presidential Oath of Office

A Federal law suit filed in the District of Columbia by Michael Newdow on December 30, 2008 contended the second, current form of administration, where both the Chief Justice and the President articulate the oath, appending "So Help Me God", to be a breach of the constitutional instructions. The suit distinguishes between the words spoken by the administrator, which must conform to the exact 35 words of the constitution, and the President, who has a right to add a personal prayer, such as "So Help Me God."[34]

 Chief Justice Roberts' reply was that his "prompting" for these four extra-constitutional words were to be recited "after" the oath of office, and not as a part of the oath as claimed in the suit.[35]

Circle of Charity

I spotted a shelf of used tennis balls
in the Thrift Shop sponsored
by the Hospital Philanthropic Auxiliary

Five cans written off
by a contributor on his IRS 7201
as "Misc. Sports Equipment" $387

Months later the single mom
her credit cards maxed out
sees them, and thinks,
Only five bucks,
Marty will enjoy these

But he didn't, as he knew
what Mom and the shopkeepers

It was junk.

And Marty was
even more angry, and hurt
and felt worse than ever.

the shrewd contributor
smiled at his tax refund.

Used Tennis Balls

Circle of Charity

I spotted a shelf of used tennis balls
in the Thrift Shop sponsored
by the Hospital Philanthropic Auxiliary

All  of them written off
by a shrewd contributor on his IRS 7201
as "Sports Equipment" $387

Months later the single mom
her credit cards maxed out
sees them, and thinks
Marty will like a few

But he didn't, as he knew
what Mom and the shopkeepers

It was junk. And Marty was
even more angry, and hurt
and felt worse than ever.
the shrewd contributor
smiled over his tax refund.