October 25th, 2013
05:11 PM ET
Air Force makes 'God' optional in honor code
By Emily Smith, CNN
(CNN) - The U.S. Air Force Academy has decided to make phrase "so help me God" optional in its honor code after an activist group protested that requiring all cadets to recite it violates their rights.
The complete oath reads: "We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does, so help me God."
Cadets are required to recite the oath when they complete basic training. It is also taken by the entire cadet wing each year as re-affirmation of their commitment to the honor code, said AFA spokesman Major Brus Vidal.
The Military for Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group that has waged repeated battle with the armed services, took issue with the last clause of the sentence, saying that no cadets should be forced to make a promise to God.
After the complaint was filed by MRFF, the Air Force Academy Honor Review Committee met for an in-depth discussion regarding the oath.
On Friday, the AFA released a statement saying they had decided to make the final clause of the honor oath optional.
The AFA statement read, in part, “Here at the Academy, we world to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, Airmen and civilian Airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference –- or not.”
"The fact that the oath is optional will be communicated in honor lessons, leadership lessons, and religious respect lessons during the summer (cadet basic military training) so all trainees will understand prior to taking the Cadet Honor Oath that the final clause will be completely optional," said Vidal.
"The person administering the oath, who is the cadet wing honor chair has the option to say or not say 'so help me god," so this might vary from year to year," Vidal continued.
MORE ON CNN: Air Force: Bible and nukes don't mix
Mikey Weinstein, MRFF's founder and president, said he would sue the academy on behalf of his clients if the words were still left at the end of the oath, even if repeating them was optional.
“If the words are still there and you don’t say [them] you turn yourself into a tarantula on a wedding cake,” he said.
MRFF has taken issue with the Air Force before. In 2011, the group complained about an Air Force training presentation that used religion to teach the ethics and morality of using nuclear weapons.
That same year, CNN learned that the Air Force was using religious tenets such as the Ten Commandments to teach core values to ROTC cadets.
MORE ON CNN: Air Force's use of Christian messages extends to ROTC
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
That's some solid Hope & Change right there, I tell ya what.
Sorry, does equality and justice offend you?
I love reading these religious blogs/articles. It just continues to amaze me how stupid people are and how adamant they are in maintaining that stupidity.
Yay! You're no longer forced to swear that you believe in invisible people! It's about time we start acknowledging that some of us don't have imaginary friends.
makes me sick to see this whats the military about anymore?
It's about defending the nation. What in the world did you think it was about?
Interesting that you thought the military was some sort of seminary.
Honor, nobility, self sacrifice – all things that do not require a threat of hell, nor promise of heaven, for decent people to believe in.
Libs out of control
religious delusions out of control
Hooray for common sense!
Thanks for your support!
Except that those words are still there in the oath; they're just "saying" it is optional for a cadet to recite the words.
Like in reality that will truly be "optional". Like they won't be made to feel they have to say the "optional" words.
I don't think so.
Yeah, the lead cadet won't really have an option not to say it – too much pressure. Same for all the rest. Still, it's a small step.
I'm sure they won't be 'made' to say it. But those who don't will probably find themselves on someone's list of 'malcontents'.
"No cadet should be forced to make a promise to god" No person should be forced to make a promise to god, ever. Very happy this has happened!
god is an idol, God is the eternal creator.
that sounds you just heard was common sense going right over your head.
Can't wait to c u in court, jackazz. Lol
Do u solemnly swear... so help u god? I'm dying dodo
Hey there, Cpt. Obvious, you don't seem to know that swearing an oath to god has NEVER been a requirement in the USA. You can always affirm and omit gods entirely. But you don't appear to be very literate.
Please make oxygen and ejection seats optional for them as well!!
The intelligent servicemen will take those options while the religious ones will presume that God will provide for them.
Would you rather them swear by Crom?
Nah. Odin is way cooler.
Crom laughs at your four winds. He laughs from his mountain.
Go and fight. What warrior wastes time in the halls of madness? Are you a warrior or a puling dog seeking favor? Go!
So does that mean if I am a member of an activist group that SUPPORTS using God in the honor oath, and complains, it will be changed back? Please don't tell me the academy rolled over and played dead because of one COMPLAINT? What if the same activist group complained about wings on our Air Force aircraft? Will they be optional too?
"no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
It's in the Const.itution and was since the beginning.
Making "so help me God" a requirement is exactly what is meant by the words "a religious test". Officer cadets in the US armed forces are surely an office or public trust under the United States, don't you think?
We happen to live in a secular country, so removing the mention of a god by government entities is actually a good thing, and moves us closer to reason. Unless you had some vested interest in us all becoming Christian, I don't understand your objection to the change.
Bahahaha. Wings are real. They are tangible and physically proven to exist and help fly a plane. God is just a guess. BIG difference.
And the godless far left rejoices. Sad!
If there is no god, then we're all godless. You can't conjure one up just by hoping that one exists.
This moderate Atheist rejoices.
You imply that having God in your life makes you a good person. That is false as history has shown.
You have God in your life because you need Him. Because you are lost. Those who are not lost are exempt.
"They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." – Jesus
Indeed you can see how your presumptive sounding comment betrays your prejudiced mind. A sinful mind. You are lucky that you know of Jesus, but it does not seem that his remedy had any affect on pacifying your agitated mind....at least not yet.
One more thing... it is ignorant to presume that all left wing thinkers are Godless. As it is ignorant to presume all Right Wingers are evil racist greedy money driven corporation worshiping people.
Odinless, Zeusless, Allahless, etc.
Everyone is godless to most gods, some just go one god further.
Funny that you would care what the far side of any political ideology thinks. They're all whacky.
Also funny you think there are no Atheists on the far right.
You're just plain funny!
and this gawd-less Libertarian rejoices (face it, to me Republicans are just as Liberal as Democrats... they simply want to control different aspects yet equal amounts of the citizen's life)
there are non-theists, atheists, and agnostics to be found throughout the political spectrum.
Prayer changes things
Someone prayed to have "so help me God" removed from the Air Force Academy 'honor' code?
Whats so impressive, every body has an ass hole.
Because when people respond to it, that makes me feel important.
Because I have nothing to say in defense of my original post.
Truth needs no defending.
"What I believe is the truth. What you believe isn't."
Excellent argument. I'm stunned by the logic.
Speaking of unhealthy for children and other living things:
(Gen. 7:21) “And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, domestic animals, wild animals, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and ALL HUMAN BEINGS”
The Bible says God killed EVERY CHILD on the face of the earth.
The Bible says God killed EVERY BABY on the face of the earth.
The Bible says God killed EVERY FETUS on the face of the earth.
Not one Christian can name ONE SIN that they committed.
Once again one Christian telling you one sin was continual evil. It is explained quite clearly in the Bible, a text which judging by your misrepresentations you have never read.
lol. A two-week-old fetus doesn't even have a heart beat and you are ridiculous enough to claim it already has evil thoughts.
Still NOT ONE SIN. What EVIL did they do?
Still waiting for an answer with any common sense in it. Are you claiming that "free will" is just a lie spread by Christians? Where was the "free will" to chose God?
Please try again. Your answers are a total failure.
Well, yeah, sure, one time God got angry and drowned everyone, killed em all.
But then he made a rainbow, so it's all good now.
Here is why he did it from Genesis 6
5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
This is all the reason we are given. The evil and wickedness of the people grieved his heart.
So there is no such thing as "free will". It's just a lie spread by Christians? Not everyone has a choice. Some are born evil and not even God can correct them.
They were evil, it was their choice, free will. God wanted to create a being with free will.
There is no such thing as free-will. Every thought, every bit of awareness, can only follow the laws of physics as neurology (the brain) is only composed of organic cells that are not uniform or under the control of the person whose brain it is.
We cannot control anything at the cellular level. And brain activity is governed by quantum physics, a much smaller scale than the cellular scale.
Any perception of control is itself uncontrolled, showing that the perception is an illusion, nothing more.
Please deposit 25 cents to continue.
Not for amputees.
Especially for amputees, just not for you.
MLK was a prayer warrior. Do you think he would have had the strength to change the hearts and minds of a nation without prayer?
He wasn't a "prayer warrior" so you can just shut the hell up right now.
So we're stealing @Colin's handle now?
I guess you never had to swear the Air Force Academy's honor code, 'so help me God' or otherwise.
"Could you instead please pray for the times when I cherish inflated ideas of my own importance … the times when I fudge the truth … the times when I manipulate my husband to get things my own way…sin…’mam if you want to pray for me pray that I receive the power of resurrection to put to death the things in my life that displease God."
Joni Erikson, on requests for prayers to Joni to be healed of her quadriplegia
Prayer is like placebo medication. It only works if you think it's going to work. This has been verified in several studies regarding prayer and illness. Oddly enough, prayer only "worked" for those that knew they were being prayed for. It's basically just a way to encourage hope and positive thinking. It doesn't mean some magical sky man exists and is helping somebody overcome an illness just because people prayed for it.
For the following reasons, true Christians should be involved in warfare:
1.Obedience to God. The Bible says that God’s servants would “beat their swords into plowshares” and not “learn war anymore.”—Isaiah 2:4.
2.Obedience to Jesus. The apostle Peter was told by Jesus: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) Jesus thus showed that his followers would not take up weapons of warfare.
Jesus’ disciples obey his command to be “no part of the world” by remaining strictly neutral in political matters. (John 17:16) They do not protest against military actions or interfere with those who choose to serve in the armed forces.
3.Love for others. Jesus commanded his disciples to “love one another.” (John 13:34, 35) They would thus form an international brotherhood in which no member would ever wage war against his brother or sister.—1 John 3:10-12.
4.The example of early Christians. The Encyclopedia of Religion and War states: “The earliest followers of Jesus rejected war and military service,” recognizing those practices as “incompatible with the love ethic of Jesus and the injunction to love one’s enemies.” Likewise, German theologian Peter Meinhold said of those early disciples of Jesus: “Being a Christian and a soldier was considered irreconcilable.”
I think you meant "not be involved in warfare", Sport.
Thanks for the correction.
Buddha taught the same thing - 500+ years before the alleged Jesus preached... and I don't think Buddha ever threatened to come back someday with a sword in his mouth and slay everyone who didn't believe in him!
Jesus would have to come and execute judgment upon the wicked, if not the wicked people will continue to execute the innocent.
Uh, huh... and doncha know, the worst of these "wicked" things is not being able to believe the crumby "evidence" that he was/is "God".
Jesus speaking, Luke 11:21 When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:
"... but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils."
–strong man—meaning Satan.
armed—pointing to all the subtle and varied methods by which he wields his dark power over men.
his palace—man whether viewed more largely or in individual souls—how significant of what men are to Satan!
in peace—undisturbed, secure in his possession.–
That sounds pretty good considering the context of that part of the chapter. Thanks for sharing.
The standard Abrahamic God has not prohibited military operations that by their nature can't but kill unarmed people including civilians. What place does it have in an "honor" code?
Apparently they're only worried about lying, cheating and stealing.
Killing women and children is A-OK in their code. They just "want to know if (the cadets) are moral enough join the (air force) and burn women, kids, houses and villages".
Apologies to Arlo Guthrie.
As long as you don't directly teach the Ten Commandments, what's wrong with using them as the basis of a morality code? Stealing, lying, cheating on people, murdering people. Hmm. Doesn't sound too terrible.
The last sentence of the article really has nothing to do with the rest of the piece.
But since you bring it up, what do the ten commandments teach you about launching nuclear missiles?
I don't recall any "Thou shalt push the button to annihilate thy foes" commandments.
Let us pray for our soldiers that they know how to use the Holy Hand Grenades:
And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.
I thought someone might quote from the Book of Armaments, chapter two, verses nine through twenty-one.
Might as well use the Code of Hammurabi, or the ancient Egyptian law code, or one of many others from eras past - they all prohibit, lying, stealing, cheating and murder, (and the first 4 of yours demand worship of your particular ancient Israelite god).
1. Do not have any other gods before me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.
3. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
4. Honor your father and your mother.
5. You shall not kill
6. You shall not commit adultery.
7. You shall not steal.
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
1-3 : These are kind of petty for an omnipotent being.
4 : You should honor and respect all people – not just your parents (granted some parents/people do not deserve respect)
5 : I think we are all on board with this (of course unless you are in the military)
6 : Simply #4 again – just specifying your spouse instead of parents
7 : Again we are all on board with this one (unless you are a free market capitalist)
8 : Seems to me that alias stealing is an example of this one
9 : Merely a "thought crime" unless you act upon it.
10 : This is the basis of a consumer economy.
The only commandments that are actual crimes in most "modern" countries are 5 (with exceptions), 7, and 8 (but typically only when under oath in a court of law as perjury or when presented in a public forum such as libel/slander).
When you start thinking about it there are a surprising number of legal exceptions to number 5. How many of them are 'moral'?
The duty of a soldier in war (as pointed out above)
Self defence of your home (against an armed intruder)
Capital punishment by the state
Drone strikes against foreign terrorists
then it starts to get really ambiguous
Policemen who shoot first and ask questions later because they "thought they saw a gun" (one of these occured this week)
Freedom fighters – like the Nazi resistance.
(Now we would usually exclude terrorists, but what about Zionists who bombed hotels and police stations in the 1940s. It all kind of depends on whose 'side' you are on.)
"Thou shalt not kill" gets pretty complicated pretty quickly.
I think that is why it is #5 on the list. It is apparently more important that you refrain from blasphemy than killing. Besides, the big "G" seems to enjoy the killing thing quite a bit. A bit of "Do as I say, not as I do" if you ask me.
5 is murder.
Multiple translations exist of the fifth/sixth commandment; the Hebrew words לא תרצח (lo tirtzach) are variously translated as "thou shalt not kill" or "thou shalt not murder"
how do *you* tell the difference between killing and murder and how is this derived as *morally* right?
If you look at the mosaic law, you find the death penalty for premeditated murder, while what we would call man slaughter today requires the guilty party to move to a sanctuary city.
Is it premeditated murder to deliberately take the life of a wrongfully convicted felon?
Is it premeditated murder to kill innocent children in a drone strike because they happen to be located in the same building as a known terrorist?
You also have the death penalty for working on Sunday, not honoring your parents, and a host of other things.
GOPer, if I understand your questions, those would both be unintentional, so not premeditated.
HG, yes, but I was giving the context of thou shalt not murder.
They are both entirely premeditated. All the 'facts' may even be known ahead of time.
GOPer, I guess I misunderstood. If someone orders the execution of an innocent person that is definitely murder. If someone blows up a house with innocent people inside, it is murder.
Fair enough. And my examples weren't entirely contrived. They do happen.
A religious test shouldn't be optional because it's illegal.
I actually am a person with a religion and I would not want to take that test. I don't want to let people in to my private thoughts to that extent.
I'm kind of surprised it wasn't always optional.
The USAF Academy (and West Point) are pretty hard core about including God in their inst.itutions.
There are way to many of these "so help me God" oaths.
Oath of enlistment
Honor code (the one in this topic)
Oath of affirmation
Oath of office (required for commissioned officers)
Naturalized citizens are also required to swear the oath of allegience which is really over the top.
Given that "no religious" test is mandated by the Const.itution for *all* government positions, the un-Const.itutionality of such oaths is blindingly obvious, but they remain all the same. There is normally an option to 'opt out' of the "so help me God" bit.
The natualization oath of allegience is:
"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Consti.tution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
It's an improvement over the previous version which required "obedience to the commander in chief".
For the naturalization oath, you can request to replace the references to the deity with neutral terms, and the "so help me god" taken out. 8 CFR 337.1(b).
I did exactly that for my naturalization.
You still have to swear to bear arms though.
Citizens jus soli never have to do that.
It's about time.
Mandated theism in the US military academies has to stop.
Unless you want *some* of your officers to be forced into being disingenuous.
I will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does, so help me God.
And if your god fails to help, it's his/her fault?