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Affirmation

The right to affirm is provided for those giving evidence in English civil courts who, with or without religious faith, object on conscientious grounds to taking an oath. Affirmation is distinguishable from oath-taking in that no penalty can be invoked for false witness. The practice probably arose originally because of the scruples of witnesses in court who were afraid to invoke the name of God (as in oath-taking) in case false evidence should be given unconsciously.