In reply to Mr. Lichtenstein’s comment on my article ‘The Wall of Separation” (August/September 1984), may I say that I can find therein no “downright distortion of fact.” Contrariwise, he is guilty of downright distortion of my text.
I am perfectly aware that the Constitution offers an option to the President-elect to take an oath or affirm. What I pointed out is that most of our Presidents have chosen to do the former. Whether the “tradition” established by our first President is now considered binding is indeed a moot question. But so far thirty-seven out of his thirty-nine successors have chosen to take an oath on the Bible. It so happens that all the successors have been men, but there is nothing in my article to suggest that they “must” be men, as Mr. Lichtenstein implies. The issue of gender is not even discussed in my article.