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. Vic

    Faith in God, the Father, Son (Lord Jesus Christ) and Holy Spirit, is in the heart of the believer, whether uttered or not.

    At any rate, hats off to the USAF.

    October 30, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Science Works


      The heart is a muscle full of IRON (heavy element) Vic.

      How the Universe's Violent Youth Seeded Cosmos With Iron

      Oct. 30, 2013 — By detecting an even distribution of iron throughout a massive galaxy cluster, astrophysicists can tell the 10-billion-year-old story of how exploding stars and black holes sowed the early cosmos with heavy elements.


      October 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  2. Help is on its way

    Please remove any reference to "Hail" to the Chief. We don't serve Caesar in this country either. Though Obama thinks he is a dictator of sorts. Mandating the government control all aspects of our life.

    Hell no!

    God and Country are referred to by many soldiers, do they drop that too?

    What's next, maybe the atheists can control how churches perform services like marriage and death and baby dedications.

    We are on a straight path to Hell...

    Got your marshmallows? Its hot there, really hot.

    October 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

      "What's next, maybe the atheists can control how churches perform services like marriage and death and baby dedications"

      Your own question nicely defines your ignorant view of your religion and its useless prardigm of self-importance!

      Church "services" for marriage, funerals and baptisms are nothing but empty and prefunctory gestures made to glorify useless ancient rituals that have NO real meaning NOR any legal significance! You believers are free to practice whichever pointless rituals supporting whatever dogma you wish, just don't expect any of the rest of us to care nor participate! You DO realize that a church marriage has NO legal significance whatsoever unless you FIRST obtain a proper MARRIAGE LICENSE! It is the MARRIAGE LICENSE that actually establishes your union, not your religious hokum!

      October 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Reston Jeff

      Kleenex? You seem ready to cry.

      November 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • klargar

      You are a brain dead imbecile, just saying enjoy your day blockhead.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  3. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Why is this still a topic of conversation? You don't have to swear to 'god" to enlist, reenlist, or get commissioned as an officer. I recall having the option to 'affirm' since at least 1985 when I enlisted. This article is just about some stupid service academy catching up to 21st century.

    October 30, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Robert

      If you actually were enlisted you should be ashamed. Cadets have had the option to affirm just as long. Mickey, your hero, found some instances that still had swear. So he's getting another 15 minutes, his 'non-profit' makes some more profit, and dorks like you support his cause. thanks for helping attack the service you claimed to have served in.

      October 31, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  4. Charm Quark

    I say again....
    We will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate among us anyone who does, I swear or affirm.
    Problem solved.

    October 30, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Robert

      No problem to solve. I said So Help Me God. You don't have to.

      October 31, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • Lisa

        You're OK with people swearing by whatever god, other fictional character, or thing that they want to as well?

        "So help me Kang and Kodus."

        (sorry, too many Simpsons Treehouses of Horror last night)

        November 1, 2013 at 8:19 am |
      • Rascal262

        Would you allow cadets to swear to Allah (there are Muslims in the US Armed Forces), or Satan? (there are Satanists too)
        That would make things very interesting at the Academy.

        November 1, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • Akira

          The outrage would be palpable. It would be interesting, all right.

          November 1, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  5. Steve Finnell


    Can you accept the Mormon position about God and be a Christian?

    1. Mormons say Adam is their God.

    "When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body and brought Eve, one of his celestial wives.....He is our father and our God and the only God with whom we have to do" (Brigham Young, in The Journal of Discourses, Volume I, page 50)

    Can you believe Adam is God and still be a Christian?

    Adam was created by God. Adam was not God. (Genesis 2:1-25 Genesis 3:1-24)

    2. "In the beginning the head of the Gods called a council of theGods and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it" (The Journal of Discourses, Volume VI, Sermon by Joesph Smith).

    Can you believe in more than one God and still be a Christian?

    1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God....

    Ephesians 4:6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

    James 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well ; the demons also believe, and shudder.

    (Even demons believe in one God)

    1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord , Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

    Mark 12:29-32 Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel"The Lord our God is one Lord;....... 32 The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is one, and there is on one else besides Him; (The scribe agreed with Jesus that there is but one God)


    (Scripture quotes from: (NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http:/steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    October 30, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Andy

      Yes, they are Christians, they're just Christians from a denomination who believe some things differently than you do. You know, like Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. etc. believe some things differently from each other yet all claim to be Christians. Why is Mormonism any different?

      October 31, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Lisa

      They're also Christians like the sects that, in the good old days, would have been labeled "heretic" and muscled out of existence. They very well almost were, which is why we have Utah today.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:21 am |
  6. Dyslexic doG

    And that he came to save us, to die, a horrible death, despising the shame

    October 30, 2013 at 6:36 am |
  7. Dyslexic doG

    To contemplate the marvel of it all. To have walked with him. To have fished and pigged out and built structures together, knowing that this homely, average appearing guy was in fact GOD ALMIGHTY

    Mind boggling

    October 30, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      It is incredible. Godman here among us

      He who has seen me has seen the father

      October 30, 2013 at 6:34 am |
  8. sam stone

    Even as he relaxed and absorbed the beauty of a sunset–one that he himself had made

    October 30, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • sam stone.

      someone stealing names again.....how fvcking cute

      October 30, 2013 at 5:20 am |
      • Help is on its way

        Boo who who who

        Quit your whinnying.

        Some stole my name, may be its your evil twin.

        Get a new hobby, you waste our time here.

        October 30, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
        • Breaking the 8th and 9th Commandments AGAIN?

          Frick off, you thieving, lying Christian. You are no better than the atheists you hate so much. You're going to hell, you hypocritical liar!

          October 30, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
        • sam stone.

          suck your 12 gauge, pen-day-ho

          October 31, 2013 at 12:27 am |
        • jill

          Thanks Sam. I was aftaid only Christians were violent, insane, neurotic, insecure, bigoted, stinking, delusionial felons

          October 31, 2013 at 5:09 am |
        • sam stone.

          jill: still spending lots of time on your knees?

          November 1, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Help is on its way

      Sammy... it appears you have a following. Some like you and some just misunderstand you.

      Keep up the good work, whom ever you are or are not.

      October 31, 2013 at 8:24 am |
  9. Sean Lynch

    U no? That this guy, this ordinary looking human being, was in fact god.

    October 30, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • sam stone


      October 30, 2013 at 2:16 am |

      • GOOBER

        October 30, 2013 at 3:00 am |
  10. Bill

    "We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does, so help me God."

    –That sounds right, those who don't want to say don't have to say it. That makes sense to an atheist wanting to abide by the core values of showing "integrity" in their service.

    God bless the U.S. Air Force

    October 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Tobi McFarland

      NO, not sure what integrity you are talking about? There are a bunch of demented tools here that are removing posts made by Christians. This is proof that without God, core values are virtually non-existent. Godless are pitifully virtueless at least here.

      October 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • Jones

        That must be the handiwork of one the tools that have posted below.

        October 29, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
      • Sara

        First, that isn't proof of anything. It might be really bad evidence, but if you know what proof means, that's not an example. Second, you aren't taking a proper measure unless you consider this board over a long period of time. A few months ago atheist posts were disappearing. Of what was that "proof"? Third, given that more secular countries, such as Ja.pan and the countries of Scandinavia, are some of themost law abiding and peaceful, you seem to be quite selective in where you look.

        October 29, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
        • I wonder

          "A few months ago atheist posts were disappearing."

          Not even that long ago, actually. Just last week several interesting discussions involving non-believers were deleted - I think it was on the Oprah article - between Paul (Christian) and, IIRC, Richard Cranium, Cpt. Obvious, redzoa, and maybe some others. How frustrating to put in so much time, effort and thought and have the posts disappear!

          October 29, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
      • Observer

        Tobi McFarland

        "This is proof that without God, core values are virtually non-existent."

        Amazingly ignorant. Do some THINKING before you comment again.

        October 29, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
        • Help is on its way

          Observer. ..

          And you are just someone with their head up their as..s

          You are welcome. Because I know you were going to thank me for reminding you of that fact.

          You might change your name to Forest Hump. Because "ForestGump" is smarter than you.

          October 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
        • Observer

          Help is on its way,

          Speaking of "someone with their head up their as..s" here's an easy question that any educated person should be able to answer. Give it a shot. Do your very best.

          Question: the ancient Greeks didn't believe in God, the Bible, or Jesus. So were they famous for:

          (a) Being uncivilized, immoral animals running around killing each other, or
          (b) Great thinkers, scientists, mathematicians and organizers of educational systems?


          October 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
      • tallulah13

        If you need supernatural threats and promises in order to be a good person, then you aren't really a good person. You're nothing more than a dog on a leash.

        October 29, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
        • Sean Lynch

          U need them and u r still a vile piece of stench

          November 1, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
      • Barcs

        I haven't seen any Christian posts disappear. You may be having an issue with certain words being flagged and the response not showing up as a result. Some of the filters are a bit silly. I was having this issue before and changed the terms and it worked fine.

        October 30, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • Sean Lynch

          Let's make it interesting bow wow. How Bout a friendly wager of 10,000 bucks that this fixed little pit from hello deletes christian posts? Come on girlfriend, whd DA ya say?

          November 1, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • james

      No, the fair thing to do is allow people to subst itute whatever they want for "God" as in, "So help me Allah", or "So help me Thor" or even "So help me Me".

      October 29, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
      • Funny stuff

        I love the idea
        So help me Edward Scissorhands

        October 30, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  11. midwest rail


    October 29, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  12. Lisa

    Well, we've never found any human remains with any sign of ever living that long, and the trend appears to be towards longer lifespans, than away from them. So, yeah, we have no good reason to believe that humans ever could live for hundreds of years.

    October 29, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  13. BRC

    I find it interesting that the USAF Academy has such a rigid Christian bent, and tries to inject its preffered religious bent on many aspects of the cadet's lives (there have been other USAFA codes and mottos that called out "God"); and yet for all that supposed moral superiority of the Christian religion, the Air Force Academy has one of if not the worst track record of se xual harrasment and abuse of ALL of the service academies.

    October 29, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • james

      Christian men just gotta show women who's boss, I suppose?

      October 29, 2013 at 10:04 am |
      • Evolution 101

        Hey James the women told the right wing nuts in Texas.

        Texas Abortion Restrictions Declared Unconsti-tutional By Federal Judge

        By CHRIS TOMLINSON 10/28/13 04:35 PM ET EDT AP

        October 29, 2013 at 11:35 am |
        • james

          They're closing down as many abortion clinics as they can down there. What good is having a right if you don't have any place to exercise that right?

          October 29, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
        • Evolution 101

          According to the article the ruling prevents them from closing for now.

          October 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
        • Akira

          From what I understand, there is a permanent injunction against closings. Of course, Texas is appealing to the USSC. More taxpayer $ to fulfill a Texas wet dream.

          October 29, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  14. Charm Quark

    We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate amongst us anyone that does, I swear or affirm.
    Good enough for the Senate Committees, should be okay with the academy. Quit the discrimination for that is what it is.

    October 29, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  15. Richard Cranium

    There is no reason to think men lived hundreds of years. Just your book makes that cllaim, and your book has been disproven enough that the whole of it is suspect.
    Time changes only relative to the observer and a point the observer is relative to.
    To think that you can use this to somehow say that people lived hundreds of years is misrepresenting our understanding of time.

    October 29, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  16. Sara

    Cheese, Did some illiterate 14 year old take your name or are you having a stroke?

    October 29, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Bingo Sara...it is the name thieving troll, He's running rampant on this blog...for all anyone knows, your post is the troll as well.
      A couple of the regulars are trying to get the editors attention to have the individual removed, and that seems to have sent the troll into a fury...half the post that come up are the same punk.

      October 29, 2013 at 8:44 am |
      • Sara

        Well, at least he's easy to spot. I was going to try writing that in his kinderspeak as a joke but couldn't even figure out how.

        October 29, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  17. WASP

    hey welcome back prayer-bot. XD

    October 29, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Cap'n 'Murica has been rearing his star spangled head again too.
      Even if you think you feel better, it is important to keep taking those meds.
      I understand that without all the voices, it can be hard to know who to kill and what to burn, but the nice doctors don't want to have to put you back in the huggy jacket.

      October 29, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  18. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    You obviously have not been observing current events in Russia, your brand of fundementalism is en vogue. You and Putin would get along famously

    October 29, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  19. Maxwell's Demon

    I can find nothing supporting your assertion.

    October 28, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
  20. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Why are you stealing names? Too unoriginal to come up with your own?

    October 28, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
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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.