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

    I remember there was a time when I could troll to my heart’s content.
    But now it seems I can’t get the blog’s consent.

    Every time I try to troll
    It’s just another nasty “No!”
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    So please stop your trolling today!

    I really mean it…..

    Please stop the trolling, Christ quit the trolling, cease with the trolling today!

    October 28, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • Apple Bush

      An original work in three-part harmony dedicated to our troller, whatever it may be.

      October 28, 2013 at 2:09 am |
      • the troller

        I'm sad.

        October 28, 2013 at 2:10 am |
        • the troll

          I really do like ABBA.

          October 28, 2013 at 2:10 am |
      • there can be only three

        I am not your target as the one who has been here all day is not me. I am just providing comic relief as a public service.
        I just got here. Here's a suggestion: why not let CNN handle all that? It's their website, they have the equipment, they have the IP addresses of everyone who posts here. It is unrealistic to assume you could ever know just how many people post here without having access to the logs. Can't be done the way you wish or think you are "figuring out" who is your target and who is not. That's how I know there are at least two people here. Me and someone else. Probably more, since you seem to be running around with your junk hanging out.
        Let CNN handle it. If they wanted, they could delete all the blogs.
        It's like blowing the fluff off a dandelion – you post and it goes somewhere out of your hands far away. Deal with it already.

        October 28, 2013 at 2:28 am |
    • Apple Bush


      October 28, 2013 at 2:10 am |
      • Apple Bush


        October 28, 2013 at 2:11 am |
  2. ABBA

    It's the best we can do.

    October 28, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • Knowing me knowing you

      Uh huh

      October 28, 2013 at 1:58 am |
  3. the troll

    Gravy changed everything in my life!

    October 28, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • the troll

      catch me if you can little man, for I have a plan and I can!

      October 28, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • there can be only three

      I like good gravy. Tasty stuff.

      October 28, 2013 at 1:03 am |
    • the troll

      HEY! What kind of gravy do you freakin' like anyways???

      October 28, 2013 at 1:05 am |
      • Loose

        Your baybee gray, mon.

        October 28, 2013 at 1:28 am |
        • Apple Bush

          I like a little clam gravy on my angel hair huh?

          October 28, 2013 at 1:48 am |
        • Loose

          Sorry, I'm Brazilian. I don't serve no bearded clam.

          October 28, 2013 at 2:04 am |
        • Apple Bush

          You have my attention.

          October 28, 2013 at 2:16 am |
      • there can be only three

        GOOD gravy. The GOOD stuff. Not that stuff your mom makes that would gag a maggot.

        October 28, 2013 at 2:00 am |
        • Loose

          And no lumps.

          October 28, 2013 at 2:07 am |
        • there can be only three

          Agreed. No lumps. Tasty is as tasty it is as it is...tasty. Results will vary. Temperature controls should be maintained to ensure proper icecap degeneration and gravy consistency. Void where prohibited by law.

          October 28, 2013 at 2:34 am |
  4. the troll

    No more carefree trolling
    Silence ever after
    Trolling through and empty blog, tears in my eyes
    Here is where the trolling ends, this is goodbye

    Trolling me, trolling you
    There is nothing we can do
    Trolling me, trolling you
    We just have to face it, this trolling is through

    October 28, 2013 at 12:49 am |
    • ???

      Whatever Apple

      October 28, 2013 at 12:56 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Really ??? you don't recognize ABBA "Knowing me, knowing you" or you just think it is stupid lol?

        October 28, 2013 at 12:58 am |
        • ???

          Yeah, really??! ABBA is retarded. You can't hit it out of the ballpark every time.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • the troll

      A dribbler to the mound.

      October 28, 2013 at 1:24 am |
      • Bibbleton

        You dribbling bunt

        October 28, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Well I think it is just lovely.

      October 28, 2013 at 1:49 am |
      • Lovely


        October 28, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • Frye

      So Apple Bush admits to being the troll right here. And burps up something from the 70's to gross us out. Good times.

      October 28, 2013 at 2:50 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Frye you are incorrect. Anyone who knows me knows that.

        October 28, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  5. the troll

    My left testicle was chewed off by a dolphin at sea world when I was 8 years old. I am 10 now.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • the troll

      This is an excellent article. Not perfection, but the opinions were persuasive and you can dance to it.

      October 28, 2013 at 12:42 am |
      • the troll

        The troll is trolling the troll trolling the troll.

        October 28, 2013 at 12:43 am |
        • the troll

          and now I am trolling you trolling me trolling you trolling me.

          October 28, 2013 at 12:45 am |
      • Wolp Blitzer (not related)

        I found myself doing the Charleston in my underwear. It was a life-changing experience.

        October 28, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • Neo Agnostic

      Egad! its a Troll OFF!

      October 28, 2013 at 12:53 am |
      • the troll

        Now you messed me up.

        October 28, 2013 at 1:01 am |
        • the troll

          Now you messed me up when I was about to troll you trolling him.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:03 am |
        • the troll

          I like ABBA.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:06 am |
      • Boss of the Internet

        Okay, you have to do what I say now. This is a goddamned travesty. Everyone to my right must get off immediately and stay off the internet until noon tomorrow. Everyone to my left can stay until I say they have to go. No resisting or there will be friction. This is an order.

        October 28, 2013 at 3:10 am |
    • there can be only three

      The dolphin did that on porpoise.

      October 28, 2013 at 1:05 am |
      • Loose


        October 28, 2013 at 1:33 am |
        • Lol


          October 28, 2013 at 1:55 am |
      • Apple Bush


        "Queen, to make it funny."

        He doesn't get it.

        October 28, 2013 at 2:13 am |
        • He

          I don't get it.

          October 28, 2013 at 2:44 am |
  6. Mary J.

    creepy deists, yuck.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Mary J.

      I like my race cars. Don't stare at me!

      October 28, 2013 at 12:40 am |
      • the troll

        How you like my trollies Mary Jane?

        October 28, 2013 at 12:43 am |
        • :D

          my balls can move up and down and up and down. 😀

          October 28, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  7. the troll

    Good posts remind me that I am an ignoramus. I don't even understand what intelligent people discuss.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:36 am |
  8. the troll

    I troll because my penis is so small I hate everyone.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:34 am |
    • Mary J.

      Then get off the computer and seek help! LOL.

      October 28, 2013 at 12:36 am |
      • Mary J.

        Ooh, I don't want someone with a small penis. Well boo hoo.

        October 28, 2013 at 12:38 am |
  9. Edna

    Great article! A step forward! No more gods! PEACE.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:33 am |
  10. Colin

    I like him a tad.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  11. Apple Bush

    Not even a clever troll. Pity.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:30 am |
  12. Topher

    for lou's god:

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian in Name Only

    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Al lah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some id iot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, catholicism and church history – but still call yourself a Christian

    October 28, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Kimberlee

      Topher, hello! Although the tone of your posting could be called sarcastic, it makes some very good points. The message Jesus brought during his ministry, and the same for other prophet founders of the major world's religions, was actually very similar, that is, (my paraphrase) true belief is sincere, simple and logical.

      Jesus taught that prayers were not sincere when they were said with great public display of piety, but rather, when they were said in the privacy of your room. Also, that those who appear to display great piety in public, can actually be wolves in sheep's clothing. When giving to charity, the left hand shouldn't know what the right hand is doing. Love your enemies; bless those who curse you, etc etc etc Similar teachings are found in other religions; certainly the Golden Rule is found in all.

      October 28, 2013 at 12:45 am |
      • Larry

        Why would anyone trust any pastor then, for they all pray very publicly?

        And where do you see "logic" playing any part in people's faith in a god?

        October 28, 2013 at 9:13 am |
        • Kimberlee

          Larry, howdy!

          The words about prayer in public are from Jesus: "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you."

          October 28, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  13. Topher

    There is no god, so this makes sense.

    October 28, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • mama

      No need to bring Topher into this trolling. He's delusional, but he doesn't stoop to this level.

      October 28, 2013 at 12:29 am |
      • sam stone.

        he is beyond delusional. he is cowardly, too

        October 28, 2013 at 4:40 am |
    • Topher 2

      agreed. no god(s), no souls, no after lives.

      Stupid egotistical Humans.

      October 28, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • mama

      ...the bit that rubs me wrong, is that Humans have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that we evolved out of the line of Great Ape species (check tilomeres on chromosome #2) yet deists still cling to their mythologies....why?

      October 28, 2013 at 12:32 am |
      • Kimberlee

        Mama, not all people who believe in God take the Biblical story of creation literally. I am Baha'i and we are told that the creation story is symbolic, not literal; and that science and religion are two sides of the "coin of truth." It may be science has not yet discovered all there is to know about something, but eventually the truth becomes known. And we should acknowledge the truth no matter where it comes from.

        Have a great evening!

        October 28, 2013 at 12:47 am |
        • Larry

          Science may eventually lead to some kind of actual god. I sure wouldn't bet on it, but it remains possible, however remotely. Until it does, however, what possible logical reason is there to actually believe in any god? Maybe part of that coin is the truth that all gods are not literal, but merely representative of some ideal?

          October 28, 2013 at 9:18 am |
      • Kimberlee

        Larry, hello! You ask, "what possible logical reason is there to actually believe in any god?"

        Much of what we have seen as advances in civilization (justice, law, education, charity, science, art) has come from the inspiration of the messages brought by the prophets and messengers of God. When man has chosen instead to turn to greed, hatred, and war (often in the name of religion, while clearly opposed to its teachings) civilizations have crumbled and fallen.

        October 28, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  14. Kimberlee

    Hello all! Someone (without a name) replied to an earlier posting of mine in which I quoted from the Baha'i Writings about people "seeing with their own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and talked about how this leads to Justice, and Justice being the best beloved of all things in the sight of God."

    The reply said: "There's no love or beloved. Only gears and electrons. And fantasy, of course."

    Certainly, we make make gears and we may study electrons. But I'd like to toss back the following:

    "Love is the very cause of life; on the other hand, separation brings death. In the world of material creation, for instance, all things owe their actual life to unity. The elements which compose wood, mineral, or stone, are held together by the law of attraction."

    "Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation."

    – Baha'i Writings (www.bahai.org for more info)

    October 27, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Craptain Spreaking

      Okay, that is just batshit crazy-talk. You are one fucked up whackadoodle. Stay away from children, you whacko.

      October 28, 2013 at 12:07 am |
      • Kimberlee

        Wow, Craptain. Where did all this unkind emotion come from? You certainly have a way with adjectives. I can't say anyone has ever used such colorful language to me before. However, I am puzzled.

        I talk about love as a power of the universe, and am told I am (won't repeat the words) and to "stay away from children."

        You call a 60-year old lady you have never met before a (won't repeat the words), and we are all supposed to entrust our children to your care?

        I am speechless, except to say, Good Night, God bless, and take care.

        October 28, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Love is the very cause of life"

      Really? Do you have anything to back up this statement or is this just another "feel good" expression. It sounds like what Dan Dennet refers to as a "Deepity"....

      October 28, 2013 at 12:33 am |
      • Kimberlee

        Hello, Blessed are the Cheesemakers! By the way, what a great name!

        The concept that love (in terms of being a force of attraction) is the very cause of life can be understood on several different levels. Take the very basic physical one: the sperm's mad rush to penetrate an egg, starting the cell division that develops into a human being. Atoms and molecules forming combinations that provide our physical world, through forces of attraction and magnetism, let alone gravity. People come together to form a family, a community, a nation. They may not love each other all the time; they may even repel each other at times; but they often develop a love of family, of community and of country that causes them to be willing to die to protect it.

        It's just a thought... but maybe "love" is far more than a soap opera....;))))

        October 28, 2013 at 1:01 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Kimberlee, glad you like the name!

          You seem to like to conflate, and use very liberal definitions of words like "attraction" and "love". You seem to find some kind of personal truth in muddying everything to the point that you can make connections, but to me that becomes a bit absurd. For instacnce in an above post you said something like 'science and religion are two sides of the coin of truth". Science is able to demonstrate its theories, science changes its conclusions when better information becomes available. When has religion been able to demonstrate any of its "truth" claims? When does religion change conclusions based on better religious information? Bottom line, you seem like a really nice and good person from what I have read of your posts but I couldn't disagree with you broad generalizations more. Just my 2 cents, I enjoy the discussion.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:43 am |
        • Kimberlee

          Blessed, I appreciate your thoughts as well!

          October 28, 2013 at 1:51 am |
      • Andrea

        Love is the very cause for life, if my parents hadn't made love, I wouldn't have life.

        October 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  15. Neo Agnostic

    Prayer does't change a thing.

    October 27, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Kimberlee

      Howdy, Neo! Just wanted to say there is actually some scientific evidence that prayer does make a difference on the mind and emotions of the person who is praying. In other words, it can be a type of stress relief and emotional stabilizer, among other things. People who don't pray may certainly find other ways to achieve these, but for those who pray, it can be very helpful.

      In my faith we believe prayer has effects beyond this, of course, but it can be difficult to provide any scientific proof of that. But scientists can measure the effec t on the person who prays, and it seems to be very helpful to their mental and emotional health.

      October 28, 2013 at 1:09 am |
      • Neo Agnostic

        You just described meditation and that's not prayer.
        Praying to a "god" changes nothing.

        October 28, 2013 at 1:14 am |
        • Neo Agnostic

          I believe in a Higher power, but not God.
          I don't believe in Jesus, Allah, God of Christianity or any other earthly deities.
          I used to, i used to be a good christian, i used to follow the bible and prayed to god every day. My prayers have never been answered. I spoken to priests about this and all they gave me was the whole "you have to have faith" line which i found to be a load of bunk. I had faith and it got me no wheres.
          The higher power i believe in is a very cold and very uncaring higher power, evidence of that is all around me. Just look at the universe and the world itself. One asteroid and poof, we are gone, and no one cares, the universe goes on as it did before we evolved on earth.
          The Higher power i believe in is called the Universe, it doesn't care about me or any our petty beliefs. It was here before mankind and will be here long after we are gone.
          This is the truth I have learned.
          Prayer changes nothing.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:22 am |
        • Kimberlee

          Neo, you are right in that prayer and meditation often go hand in hand. But google prayer and healing yourself and see some of the interesting articles that come up. One indicated that more and more Americans are praying for their health. Now, between you and me, that may be related to the cost of healthcare these days , but the studies show there is beneficial impact to people who pray (and meditate).

          Cartainly, if you are an atheist, you can approach it more as a mind exercise. But for those who believe in God, they would naturally pray in that direction.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:31 am |
        • Kimberlee

          Neo, thanks for sharing so much about your background. I can understand how you feel.

          October 28, 2013 at 1:33 am |
  16. Reality # 2

    Want to know how to profit from a " non-profit"? Mickey Weinstein shows us how at http://www2.guidestar.org/FinDoc-uments/2011/203/967/2011-203967302-08d9fe4f-9.pdf (make sure you remove the hyphen in Doc-uments). See p. 6 of the comments for added details.


    October 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  17. bostontola

    Have a great night folks, I'm signing off. If you see a post with my name on it after this time you'll know its the infant.

    October 27, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Craptain Spreaking

      So, no change then? Okay.

      October 28, 2013 at 12:11 am |
  18. Observer

    (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 that God killed EVERY CHILD on the face of the earth.
    The Bible says that God killed EVERY BABY on the face of the earth.
    The Bible says that God killed EVERY FETUS on the face of the earth.
    The Bible says that God killed MILLIONS and MILLIONS of animals and other living things.

    October 27, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
  19. Apple Bush

    I need a psychedelic chill out.

    October 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  20. Apple Bush

    A man cannot tell another what he should do, but a man that doesn’t live within the code of decency can never really be a man. Our troll in one such person, man or woman. Without morals or a sense of pride in oneself, the troll turns cancerous and seeks only to metastasize. A long look in an unbroken mirror is needed troll, and perhaps, in your own eyes, you can find the truth your soul cries out for on this blog. I can assure you, this is not the place to find happiness through child’s play.

    October 27, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • bostontola

      Well said AB.

      Maybe this person is so insecure in their position and ability to defend it, they feel they have to gum up the works and force a stalemate. Classic coward tactics.

      October 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Yes, I agree.

        October 27, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
      • Maddy

        This person suffers from a borderline personality disorder. Count on it. He's ill.

        October 27, 2013 at 10:33 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.