Air Force Academy makes “so help me God” optional in cadet oath

American Atheists: Good, but not good enough

American Atheists supports this decision and sees this as a step in the right direction, but separation of religion and government still has a long way to go.

The Air Force Academy should take out the “god” part altogether, and/or make it optional for those cadets who opt *in.* Under a secular military system, the default reading should not include superstitious references, and the oath should not be taken with the inclusion of them, unless individual cadets choose to include such a reference for personal religious reasons on a case-by-case basis.

This is about equality. In the same way that no religious person would want to feel pressured to swear by a god they don’t believe in, atheists do not want to feel pressured to swear by a god, either. Removing the reference to a god, which should not have been included in the first place—just as it is not included in the Constitutional Oath of Office for President—is the most reasonable, fair, just, and equal action. Even by making the wording technically “optional,” there exist social pressures within a tightly knit class of cadets that reinforce group bonding and discourage going against the tide. The default position of any government activity should always be secular. If religious cadets individually want to invoke their god during their oaths, we agree with their recognizing their right to do so, but including this in the official wording is inappropriate and an abuse of authority.

For Christians, this should be a no-brainer anyway. The New Testament is unambiguous about not swearing upon anything, but rather just doing what one says they’re going to do:

Matthew 5:33-37: “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from evil.” (New International Version)

James 5:12:  Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. (New International Version)

Read the announcement from the Air Force Times here:

Additionally, American Atheists Public Relations Director Dave Muscato debated this subject on a panel with Bill Donahue of the Catholic League and Rabbi Aryeh Spero on Fox News on Gretchen Carlson’s show, “The Real Story” yesterday:

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  • Guest

    The model for oaths like this is found in Article 2 of the Constitution:
    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    The words “so help me god” are found nowhere in that document, nor is there a requirement to use any Bible or document when taking the oath.

    Furthermore, Article 6 states:

    ” no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States”

    The Air Force Academy needs to uphold the Constitution that is requires cadets to swear to uphold.

  • Charles Raymond Miller

    It’s about time for the Air Force Academy to follow the Constitution it is requiring Cadets to take an oath to uphold.

  • Historian7206

    The “so help me god” bit came out of the McCarthy era, when all the Red Commies were atheist. Soooo, to weed out the Bad Guys, they inserted the aforementioned words. (like saying words they didn’t believe in would make their pants catch on fire!) That time period is also when the currency was changed, dropping E Pluribus Unum for “In God We Trust.”

    Since the Soviet Union has been gone for, oh, 2+ decades, it’s time to ditch the religious oath stuff and get back to founding principles. Will we?

    FYI, the “so help me god” and hand on a bible when swearing in a President goes back to George Washington. It’s tradition, but not required. We need someone who has the cajones to break tradition.

  • Paul O.

    That’s Interesting. I’m currently writing a master thesis on Atheism and i’m looking for major court cases involving Atheists or that Atheists view as victories (such as the well known Abington School District vs. Schempp in 1963). Could anyone point out to me any other landmark events ?

    I’m also looking for the most recent events, but mainly court cases. Thanks

  • Doodle

    That’s a good point Matthew 5:33-37. But Christurds make their own rules. Like “Hardly shall those with riches enter into the kingdom of God”. We come to find through Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and other repuliturds that this saying doesn’t mean what it implies at all. Nope. There so happens to be good riches and bad riches. Jesus just didn’t point that out. Maybe because he wasn’t rich, or maybe Jesus was a returded turdinite from Jerus-la,la,la-ham. Baaahhha…

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