Air Force makes 'God' optional in honor code
The Air Force Academy has made a big change to its honor code to reflect religious diversity.
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

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Culture wars • Discrimination • God • Military • Politics

soundoff (2,610 Responses)
  1. Apple Bush

    If a troll wants to pretend to be me I don't care, but I wish we had a better troll. This one is the worst. Stupid.

    October 27, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • bostontola

      All kidding aside, its posts like a 6 year old.

      October 27, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
      • Harbo Grimson

        All stupidity aside, you don't know how six-year-olds actually post, do you? So you're just talking like a child yourself.
        I think you need to quit posting such sneering remarks. It is immature, as we can all see.
        Saying someone posts like a six-year-old is insulting and childish. I'm guessing you aren't much more mature than this troll you're constantly giving attention to. Why not stop acting like a kid and grow up and stop posting responses to trolls you know are trolls? Is this too difficult for you? You have no self-control like a child and cannot stay away from flinging immature insults at someone who is looking for attention? You need to just stay away from that.

        October 28, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • Observer

      fake Christian,

      Are you an atheist or an agnostic? Which?

      October 27, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I rest my case.

      October 27, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    Black marble collides
    Melt me and take my rock
    My flesh is as the flesh of polished metal
    My reflection ghoulish and lovely like an unfortunate grasshopper on a car windshield

    Will you not love this gore?
    Will you scrape me into your hand and save me for God?

    October 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  3. 3 Billy Goats Gruff

    Listen you grumpy troll, my tummy is empty and I want to eat!

    October 27, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  4. Kimberlee

    Bootyfunk, hello! Not sure you will see this but I had replied to your last post to me about why I should try to be a good person, and it seems to have never shown up.

    I have no problem accepting that people can choose "goodness" as their direction in life, without the aid of a messenger or prophet from God. In my youth, while I was doing my own spiritual search, I classed myself as "unsure what I am, maybe agnostic, maybe atheistic". I was raised by decent, hardworking people who didn't attend a church once they were away from their own parents, but kept a Bible by the sofa for reading. My mom was a very spiritual person, but she had some issues with organized religion. I went through my own search phase as a teenager, had my own spiritual experience at 18, and became a Baha'i, as I felt more of the love of Jesus in its teachings than I did in the doctrine and dogma of the churches. (Let me be sure to clarify, I have fantastic fellowship with many wonderful Christians. My husband is Christian, and I enjoy worshipping in his church with lovely, kind people. I never had anything but the greatest respect and appreciation for people trying to follow the teachings of Jesus, and there are so many wonderful Christians in the world. God bless them. The "extremism" I see at times, and it can be found in any religion, has to do more with human frailty. We can be so sure we are right that we treat anyone who rejects our path, with less than the love and kindness we are mandated. Look at the number of Christians who have killed other Christians in the name of Christ, because of doctrinal differences. But that is absolutely not the teaching of Jesus; that is our human frailty, and it shows up humans everywhere. I respect your commitment to atheism; if that is your true conscience. I ask that others respect my commitment to my faith. When my husband and I were courting, he said, I am a committed Anglican; I have no interest in changing. I said, well, I am a committed Baha'i and I have no interest in changing. We don't try to change each other; though we do have discussions about our beliefs so we can understand each other, and I am always happy to worship with him. I have no interest in trying to persuade an atheist to change his beliefs; but I enjoy sharing thoughts about religious topics, and I hope this web site will be a nice place to do so, with mutual respect and in a courteous and polite way. In my personal beliefs, God's love shines on all; the Holy Spirit blesses all; and each person has the right to investigate and find their own spiritual path.

    "... The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice... By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor... " – Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, written in the 1800s

    October 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm |

    • There's no love or beloved. Only gears and electrons. And fantasy, of course.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • AE

      Nicely stated.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
  5. HeavenSent

    Prideful, satan’s lies, camel-toe, kittens, walk with Jesus.


    October 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm |

  6. I'm in the mood for a good debate. Too bad the thief is about.

    October 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Try some light reading at wikipoops.com

      Rabbits are weird just like trolls.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:41 pm |

    • About to leave and abuse itself with the water jets in its bathtub. Should occupy it for hours.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • Observer

      fake Christian,

      Are you an atheist or an agnostic? Which?

      October 27, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    Wikipoops.com has been updated. Enjoy! Who wants me to post the bunny poop story??? Ok I will!

    October 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      How does the rabbit get essential nutrients? She eats the cecotropes as they exit the anus.

      More at wikipoops.com !

      October 27, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  8. Maddy

    Everyday I see the mornin’ come on in the same old way
    Tell myself tomorrow brings me things I would not dream today

    a song for jeffrey

    October 27, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Reston Jeff

      Thanks, freak. I spell my name J e f f e r y, though. Make a note of it.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Bibbleton

      Are you trolling us or tulling us?

      October 28, 2013 at 1:49 am |
  9. Cpt. Obvious

    People who don't realize it's wrong to steal another person's name probably need threats of hellfire to manage to be "good.'

    October 27, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Simply a lack of imagination. God did not bestow our trolls with any because why bother.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • bostontola

      Yup. People who don't realize it's wrong to steal and deceive have a weak moral core, religious or not.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
      • Harbo Grimson

        Weak moral core? You think there's an intrinsic morality, an objective morality? It's all relative, child. How sad that you have not figure this out yet. Moral relativity is all there is and all there ever will be. There is no moral aspect to physics.

        October 28, 2013 at 12:22 am |
        • Harbo Grimson

          Sorry for saying "child", as I don't want to be guilty of the same thing I don't like about you. But the rest stands.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  10. bostontola

    From the legal dictionary:

    The crime of pretending to be another individual in order to deceive others.

    October 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • bostontola

      Apparently you don't know the difference between an imposter and a nick name. People post with the same name on here, no attempt at deception. You are a deceiver. I guess your god is good with deceit.

      October 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
      • bostontola

        Your rationalizations are the hallmark of a cowardly person with weak character.

        October 27, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
      • bostontola

        The sad part is, not only does every person on this blog know you are a coward, your insistence on continuing shows that deep down you know it. My children did similar things, they have grown out of that though.

        October 27, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
      • bostontola


        October 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The sound is neither audible nor plausible

      The cause is unobtainable and impossible

      The reality is ridiculous yet true

      The end, worse than the beginning

      The beginning is the end

      October 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Akira

      That's your rationalization for stealing people's ID's?

      October 27, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
      • Harbo Grimson

        I think you people are guilty of doing the stupidest thing with a troll like that – you keep feeding him. I come here and it's like a food fight, creamed corn on the walls, tomato sauce on the floor, or is that blood?
        This child troll you are fighting is just doing it for attention and whatever else. And what do you do? You encourage him, giving him lots of attention so he knows he is successful. YOU ARE FEEDING THE TROLL STOP IT RIGHT NOW.
        You people are showing you have as little self-control as the troll you are fighting. You are all quite stupid.

        October 28, 2013 at 12:29 am |
  11. Apple Bush

    Lemonheads, Jaw Breakers, Redhots…I used to collect them in my room when I was around 7 or 8 years old. My room. My sanctuary. It was immaculate. Bed always made. Everything in its place.

    Then God came and messed it up. Even my mini-NFL football helmets.

    October 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  12. Lamb of Dog

    Chewbacca Be With Me

    Chewbacca with me, Chewbacca before me, Chewbacca behind me,
    Chewbacca in me, Chewbacca beneath me, Chewbacca above me,
    Chewbacca on my right, Chewbacca on my left,
    Chewbacca where I lie, Chewbacca where I sit, Chewbacca where I arise,
    Chewbacca in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
    Chewbacca in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
    Chewbacca in every eye that sees me,
    Chewbacca in every ear that hears me.
    Salvation is of the Chewbacca.
    Salvation is of the Chewbacca.
    May your salvation, Chewbacca, be ever with us.

    October 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  13. Apple Bush

    I have noticed that the blog has become haunted. It must be the season.

    October 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
  14. Lamb of Dog

    Chewys Prayer

    Our Chewbacca, who art in space,
    hallowed be thy name,
    thy kingdom come,
    thy will be done,
    on earth as it is in Kashyyyk .
    Give us this day our daily bread
    and forgive us our debts and we forgive
    our debtors,
    and lead us not into Great Pit of Carkoon,
    but deliver us from the dark side,
    for thine is the kingdom and the lightsabers
    and the laser guns, forever. May the force be with you.

    - Matthew 6:9-13

    October 27, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  15. AE

    “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.

    Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

    Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate.

    Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

    Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    October 27, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • bostontola

      Great leader.

      October 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        And a spirit filled preacher.

        October 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

        • Could read an' write. Plagiarized a lot but was forgiven for it.

          October 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
        • bostontola

          Many religious people have made extraordinary contributions to mankind, in politics, art, science, etc. that of course has no bearing on the reality of their religion, its because the vast majority of people are religious.

          October 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
        • AE

          We read that quote in regards to the passage in Mark

          "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

          Which was in regards to Revelation reading on Armageddon.

          October 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  16. Hail Chewbacca

    Would anybody mind if I said a prayer to Chewbacca?
    I don't want anybody to get offended and have to put up a billboard.

    October 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Maddy

      Why the hell would you want to worship that hairy thing? Han Solo is much hotter.

      October 27, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
      • Hail Chewbacca

        Yes but only Chewbacca made the earth in a day and half in his bathroom sink

        October 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
        • Maddy

          Nah, I'll take Han. Dude is hung. Plus, I can understand him.

          October 27, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
        • Hail Chewbacca

          Well you know Maddy I don't mind if you want to pray to Han. I'll support you in that. I'll even support Sam in not praying to Chewbacca.

          Now I wouldn't expect anybody to swear to Chewbacca or swear on a stack of star wars trilogy videos for any reason.

          But I insist on being able to talk about Chewbacca and not have it be a big deal. Looking forward to the anti-Chewie protests.

          October 27, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
        • Maddy

          Who said anything about my praying to Han Solo? That's not what I had in mind.
          Are you suffering from Chewbacca persecution? Poor Hail.

          October 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Hail Chewbacca

      You sound angry Sam. Does my imaginary friend bother you?

      October 27, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
      • Hail Chewbacca

        Still angry Sam? Why is that?

        October 27, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
      • sam stone.

        looks like the troll has taken my screen name again

        October 28, 2013 at 4:44 am |
    • Lamb of Dog

      Your head is pretty deep in your own rear. And you seem to keep typing ok.

      October 27, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
      • Hail Chewbacca

        Are you sure? Or is that you are so used to seeing things in one perspective that you don't see things the way maybe someone else would?

        October 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • Hail Chewbacca

        Anyway I'll stop typing now LD, I think I've made my point and from one "non believer" to another I hope you understand it.

        October 27, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  17. Richard Cranium

    he is not mocked. enjoy the pleasures of sin for a fleeting moment. then utter destruction.

    u who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears. bury your face deep in your rag for now is the time for your tears


    October 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • tallulah13

      What does Don Zimmer have to do with any of this?

      October 27, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • sam stone.

      the threat of judgement is a bad joke played on mankind

      October 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        upon entering prison

        October 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      The oldest trick in the book. Be afraid and do as you are told.

      October 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      John Newton was an eighteenth century British slave trader who had a dramatic faith experience during a storm at sea. He gave his life to God, left the slave trade, became a pastor, and wrote hymns. "Amazing Grace! (how sweet the sound)," Newton wrote, "That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see. He played a significant role in the movement to abolish the slave trade.

      rusy wright

      October 27, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
      • Observer

        Obviously, he just hypocritically ignored the Bible's support of slavery. Just another hypocrite.

        October 27, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
        • Observer

          r u seriously hoping to make a point?

          October 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
        • Observer

          Fake Christian,

          So are you an atheist or agnostic?

          October 27, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      c 4 urselves. test him to c if he's real. if he isn't, what do u fear? it is impossible to meet god and not no it. no faith required

      October 27, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The child thief of a troll once again, stealing names

      October 28, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

    to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

    October 27, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      like palin's child?

      October 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        yea and all who encouraged her

        like them

        October 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  19. DM Murdock

    And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,…

    October 27, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So basically, you revile the Constitution of the United States of America which grants us all the same right to worship or not worship as we choose, and separates church from state for the equal protection of all.

      Well, you are free to hate as long as you don't act. Your hatred for the rights of non-christians certainly says a lot about your character, and none of it good.

      October 27, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Hey troll. I was talking to your mom. She's really upset because you still haven't moved out of the basement. She'd like to sell the house and retire to Florida, but she's afraid you'd just end up on the street, eating garbage. So how about you do your mom a favor: Get a job, get a life. Get your own place. Grow up a little. She's already given up on grandchildren, but you can still become a productive member of society.

        October 27, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
      • Jeff

        How ignorant ARE you of our Nation's history, thief? That wasn't added to out currency until 1956 because of the Red Scare. God, you're ignorant. And Bush I has plenty of blood on his hands. He's the authority of nothing.

        October 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
      • tallulah13

        It doesn't matter if you use my name, little troll. Those that are familiar with me will recognize that you are not me. My integrity is not touched by your theft. But I'm done now. You're boring. People like you are nothing more than parasites on actual discussion. Have a lovely day.

        October 27, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Yeah, we know. You're god's a d!ck. He likes to torture people and all sorts of other sick stuff. We get it.

      October 27, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Lamb of Dog

      On a positive note. This doesn't apply to me because I have never acknowledge god or any other fairy tale.

      October 27, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  20. Observer

    hell will be hell

    October 27, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • tallulah13

      As far as anyone has ever proven, death is the cessation of existence.

      October 27, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Poor little troll. Too feeble to use your own name. You have to lie and steal from others because you are a coward.

        Fairy tales and medical recoveries are not proof of anything except human gullibility and the advancement of medical skill. As far as anyone has ever proven, death is the cessation of existence.

        October 27, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
      • tallulah13

        To deliberately use the name that another is using is nothing more than a lie. You simply lack the integrity to understand that. I pity you.

        October 27, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
      • bostontola

        Good thing for you there is no sin in being a coward.

        October 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
      • bostontola

        Are you a role model in your community?

        October 27, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
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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.