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
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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.
If you don't believe in God, just don't say it. It's really not that big of a deal. A big difference between atheism and religions that have a higher power is that you don't want to do anything to offend the higher power that you serve. If you're an atheist, you don't believe any higher power even exists, so if you have to say "so help me God" (you don't), then it's not a huge issue. No more than I would care if I went to a country where their oaths said "So help me Santa."
Religion and politics don't mix. One not need look any further than the Middle East to see this. If we were to propose that we put "In Zeus we Trust" your panties would be in a bundle wouldn't they?
As a Christian, Jew, or Muslim, I would be offended because if I believe that the God that I worship is the only God, I would want the option to not have to say "So help me Zeus." But as an atheist, I still wouldn't want to say it, because I don't believe in any God at all. As a religious person, I wouldn't want to say it because I would believe I am going against what my faith teaches about other gods.
Isn't it useless to force someone to swear to a god they don't believe in?
Yes. Which is why it's optional. But completely removing it would make many Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other religions that believe in a God upset. So is it really a big enough deal to sue the Air Force over to get it completely removed and offend the large majority of people who do believe in God, regardless of their religion, just to appease the minority of atheists. Yes, if you don't believe in a God, then there's no point in being forced to say it. But why go through so much trouble to remove it.
Because it's the right thing to do.
Yes. It is the right thing to do. The First Amendment is not up for debate, no "respect" is to be given to any religion by any government agency – as there wasn't any to begin with, and Congress being barred from ever allowing it, it follows that there should be ZERO instances of any violation of this right we all have: The right to have a government free of any religious influence or favoritism or other corruption.
And as we see every day, those who refuse to keep their religion separate from our government only seek to corrupt our government, as they do not respect it or our laws compared to their religion. This leads to a theocratic corruption, as we had before the ink was even dry on the Agreement that is the Constitution, signed by all the colonies – the very RELIGIOUS colonies – agreeing that this Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, over their religious differences, no matter how great or small.
A secular government to govern all the secular needs of a whole new nation. To look after their welfare, because nobody else had the resources or the leverage or authority to protect or manage anything beyond a small territory.
To provide for the Common Defense, because no one could do it on their own against the other countries in the world.
To insure Domestic Tranquility, because otherwise it's just a bunch of religious idiots slaughtering each other in the woods – something they had personal experience with back then, as it was so widespread.
I could go on, but the right thing to do is to FOLLOW THE LAW because without the rule of laws free of taint or corruption we would only have anarchy, and the frontier colonies knew all about that.
Religion must be removed from all government. There is no middle ground on this. It is the Supreme Law of the Land, not your bible, priest, or "god". The framers did NOT want anything like a theocracy.
The reason? The real world is secular in scope and effect. To govern it, one must use secular methods. Burning a sacrifice at midnight is not going to defend our borders from enemies. Our military is a secular operation. Religious people do not have rational motivations and thus are unreliable. We don't need or want unreliable people in our Armed Forces who we cannot trust to refrain from yelling about "allah" while shooting fellow service people at a military base.
There is no excuse, no rational argument you can bring to show that any religion must be allowed to taint or corrupt our laws and government workings. The right and sane thing to do is to keep all religion out of government and not allow any infringement upon this at all. Separation has been violated since the beginning by religious people who do not respect our country or our laws. This needs to stop. It is nothing less than a crime.
Once upon a time, the fact that there were so many white men in the military who didn't like blacks, that it wasn't worth the hassle (to some) to integrate the soldiers.
When a soldier is fighting for America and our rights – his rights should be respected.
God's always been pretty optional, thank heaven.
Better say your prayer once in a while.
Will not hurt you if there is no God.
But might come handy in case there is.
OK, which god should I pray to?
All of them?
Oh, use a one dollar bill, if you confused.
Can't lose with all of them....
But i thought Jesus overturned the money handlers at the temple? I am pretty sure he is PO'd about being emblazoned on the dollar don't you think?
Pascal's Wager was discredited as soon as he made it.
Better to sacrifice a dove once in awhile.
If there is no Odin, no harm done – but if there is....
It should be changed to " so help me mom ". I think they more would be terrified upsetting of their mothers.
To make it optional to say " So help me God" is a good way to keep peace with people who do not believe.
Yes, that's what I want in my Air Force service members; people who don't have enough common sense to understand that there has to be a god. Duh!
Belief in god is great example of Common Nonsense.
It will be quite late for you to change your mind when you'll stand before Him
Gotta love the proxy threats.
Um yeah. This is exactly how this God thing has gotten so much traction. Indoctrination, praying on the stupid and outright threats on your eternal soul. Where do you fit in?
Saying God in the stupid oath won't make you believe in him more. Not saying it won't make you believe in him less.
"So help me God" has been optional since I first joined in 2003. Whomever thought that "so help me God" is a REQUIREMENT of ANY PUBLIC OATH is mistaken. There has never, and will never be any such requirement because it is blatantly a violation of the 1st Amendment. I never said "so help me God" in any of my military or civil service oaths. Ever. It HAS NEVER BEEN required.
I think the lawsuit is to remove it completely.
It's not going away just yet.
"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 issue here is the 'honor code'. It has been addressed for other oaths – like the enlistment oath, the affirmation oath and the oath of (commissioned) office.
"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."
We're cross purposes here.
Yes, the MRFF wants it completely gone and they threatened suit over that, but it's only just been made optional.
Yes it is illegal.
Did you attend West Point or the AFA during your service. The academies have additional oaths to the enlistment oath.
It has been forced on cadets there. That is why the Military for Religious Freedom Foundation is working hard on this.
You know, for years the word God was used freely and openly, and I never thought anything of it or did anyone else I knew, and everything was fine. Nowadays it seems like you'll offend someone if you use the word God...
I still use "God" all the time. I've never been told I was offending anyone. I can guess I would be pretty offended if someone made me say it though.
Exactly. You using it isn't offensive. Someone forcing it on you is what is offensive, and what all this is about.
And you are quite free to continue to do so.
It is however illegal under the Const.itution to apply a religious test (like making someone swear to God) to be eligible for a government job (like Air Force cadets).
I was the foundation of America ! You have the right to ignore it ! You do not have the power to deny individuals their right to believe !
I don't think atheists are offended by the word god. I think they don't like to be in a position of either lying during an oath or having to stick out as a non-believer when the majority of officers would view that negatively. It's not unreasonable at all.
Exactly. There are many cases of harassment, discrimination, etc. for those exposed as non-believers in the military. Even official, superior officer harassment. To have the choice of lying, or exposing yourself as a non-believer is not right.
Anything to get rid of the born again evangelical clique that permeates the DoD , these people are like a cancer, and they're good for nothing. S atan worshippers are better than that crowd.
The fundies have the Air Force Academy surrounded down there in "The Evangelical Vatican" aka Colorado Springs.
One feeds the other with their ideology. Cheyenne Mountain is there too. Nuclear annihilation has a very Old Testament smiting feel to it.
the communists should be proud of themselves.,not one shot fired and America is done.
Oh drop the drama. You and yours not getting your way is no threat to the future of the country. Representatives who believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old on the house science committee on the other hand...
Your premise that America is done is baseless. Even if it were correct, it wasn't religion that made America great, it is the drive for freedom and the entrepreneurial spirit. We are great despite religion.
The religious right will be indignant about this of course, although it is optional, NOT being eliminated. I'll wager few cadets will want to stand out and request that the "God" part of the oath be left out. In this country we have a church on practically every corner, God on our money, TV evangelists abound, Christians constantly in our face pushing their medieval dogma and stating we will burn in hell if we don't believe exactly as they do YET they whine non-stop that they are being persecuted and society is trying to "take" God out of everything. Give me a freakin' break.
Until you are forced to watch religious tv or forced to bow down to a cross....quit your whining.
Jeesh...wounded atheists cry so much. Sorry that you do not approve of how our current culture is but get over it. You got it pretty dang good in this nation. You could try being an atheist over in Africa or the Middle East. Some of those places will make you bow or give you the option of a bullet inbetween the eyes. And forgive me but I would wager more of you are dedicated to your lives than any atheistic pronciples.
Jeesh...religious peeps who have their dogma removed from society sure do whine a lot
They can get over it as easily as the atheists can get over it that they can't get rid of it all from society. Time for them all to grow up.
"Sorry that you do not approve of how our current culture is but get over it."
No, I prefer to help and promote change the current culture then hide from religious pressure from ignoramus' such as yourself.
So, since Christians have it good in this country compared ot the middle east, it'd be OK to discriminate against them, make them swear oaths that involve a god they don't believe is real, and push other religions on their kids in schools?
A sad standard you have for life, if discrimination and bigotry is OK so long as somewhere in the world, someone else does it worse.
No god. No god. No god!
Oh no, God?
If there is one, which there isn't, but IF there was, why would it punish me for not believing in it? LOL That is ridiculous. If anything, it should punish people who DO believe for so easily offering their allegiance and devotion to something they had no evidence existed at all.
There is absolutely NO DOUBT IN MY MIND you've encountered these groups. you have a solid argument. But I truly want you to know that, as a Christian myself, I would stand side by side with you against some of these groups. Even though you're an atheist, I would gladly confront some groups (Westboro Church) for one, with you and do everything in my power to have them removed. Because, when i watch them on tv, I don't see a single Christian among them. There are so many people who say and do horrible things, then run and hide behind religion. Wars are started, people are killed, families are destroyed ete etc etc. I look at this world and I see bad and good. I see suffering, cancer, murder, pain and cruelty too. I don't understand it at all. But the way I believe, I know one day I will. I have faith in that. True Christians would never do what these groups do with their hateful, judging rants. But the way I believe, I know one day they will face judgement. God would never approve of what they are doing. And he will, very clearly, let them know that. I guess I just want you to know that I'm a Christian, and I don't agree with those people at all. That's not what being a Christian means to me. I sin everyday. I fight demons and struggles in my life everyday. We all fall short and I believe what goes on in the dark, ALWAYS comes to light. I know there are people who don't believe the way I do. And I would never hound them about it. Christian's aren't supposed to behave that way. But again, I don't look at those people and see Christians. but sometimes atheist, (by no means all of them) and other groups start name calling, mocking and viciously attack just because we disagree on religion. And I'm not going to lie, it's really hurtful to me. It cuts to the core in my soul to be treated that way about religion, something I believe in very deeply. I don't understand why people (again, not all of them) have to be so cruel just because I take comfort in my faith. I would never do or say anything cruel to someone just for disagreeing with me. I hope you can see my side of this.
Amen! I always read the comments but never post. I am also a Christian and feel that everybody has two options: you either accept God, or you reject God. That is a personal choice that only YOU can make; nobody can decide for you. Unfortunately, more Christians need to be reminded that we are to refrain from being accusatory, or cast our judgment on others– only God can judge others! Something I don't know if you would agree with me on– I personally think it is OK to make "so help me God" optional. It is every individual's personal journey to discover God, if they decide to seek Him. HOWEVER, what fears me is that perhaps our nation is stepping in the direction of religious oppression? Either way, I trust that the Lord will take care of all of that. Don't let the comments on here bring you down, remember that above all else– including all of humanity– God is the most powerful, loving, intelligent, creative, beyond time- something we can't even comprehend. Someday we will all meet him. Keep that in your heart and keep your eye on the heavens! 🙂
They should remove "In God We Trust" off of our currency. Maybe only then will the fools who give a lot of their hard-earned money to these megachurch phonies who live in huge mansions and have expensive cars, will finally open their eyes and realize they are total suckers.
Maybe you want the govt to come by your house and dictate to you how to spend you cash? Leave the people alone that want to give their money to churches. It doesn't hurt you any does it?
Just the suckers who hand over their money to crooks.
It's their money. They have as much right to spend it at a religious function as you do with your p o r n.
Fraud is a crime. Financial damage occurs. Tax-breaks violate the First Amendment and the Equal Protections clause.
Why don't you dry up and blow away? You think churches are going to help America? What a laugh.
Foul, short-sighted, cretin.
Fools / Svckers will always throw their money away in a foolish manner, but yes, the god sh!t should be taken off the coinage.
Lives saved by science – over 5 Billion.
Synthetic fertilizer, blood groups/transfusions, chlorination of water, smallpox, tetanus, polio & measles v a c c i n e s antibiotics, insulin, cancer screening, CPR, heart bypass surgery, ...
Lives saved by prayer – None, although hundreds have been killed by faith healers.
Blab blab blab...has nothing to do with the topic...blab blab blab.
Science saved no one. Science is merely a tool of humanity.
So is God.
And your point?
"Science saved no one. "
Certainly no one who turned a blind eye to it.
Try prayer instead of inoculations, if you TRULY believe.
Most doctors in the US believe in God.
You stupid little twit, I never implied that science wasn't a good tool. Just that it is a tool and nothing more. Scinece can be (and has) used to kill people by the thousands. In the wrong hands, science could wipe us out as a speicies. But does that make it evil? Of course. not.
Same with religion. It is a social conctruct that is only good or evil depending on how one uses it. Simple as that.
You mad, bro? Go have a drink. Lighten up. It's not all bad, is it?
Direct Subject: should god be forced on members of the AF?
General Subject: is belief in god relevant to oaths or other aspects of life.
My opinion was expressed, no to both questions. My opinion was bolstered by the evidence I supplied. No need to be so defensive. You are free to believe what you want. Please supply objective evidence to refute mine if you want.
"Direct Subject: should god be forced on members of the AF?"
Of course not.
"General Subject: is belief in god relevant to oaths or other aspects of life."
Oaths aren't anymore relevant to life than religion, philosophy, discources in logic or the scientific theory. It's only meaning lies with the individual.
"Science is merely a tool of humanity."
Science is not a tool, it is a method of acquiring knowledge about the natural world and it is the body of knowledge obtained by that method. The technologies that come from science are tools of mankind. Science is of course conducted by people, other people use the technologies to save lives.
"Science is the tool of the Western mind and with it more doors can be opened than with bare hands. It is part and parcel of our knowledge and obscures our insight only when it holds that the understanding given by it is the only kind there is."
- Carl Jung
"Science is not perfect. It’s often misused; it’s only a tool, but it’s the best tool we have. Self-correcting, ever-changing, applicable to everything; with this tool, we vanquish the impossible."
I disagree with that perspective, my argument is in my post.
Prayer saved my life.
You paint the world in black and white. Faith and reason can and do coexist. Ask any Jesuit.
I did no such thing, you read your expectations into my post. I merely said science has been proven effective and productive, prayer has not and there is evidence that it is counterproductive.
I know actual scientists who testify that prayer works. I'll trust their belief over an atheist on a religion blog any day.
There are actual scientists who will assert with evidence that prayer does nothing significant. Why not believe them?
Choking on that reply to TT, AE?
They don't seem to quite get it when they describe what they think prayer is.
AE, if you know scientists who believe prayer works, you should post their names and cite their evidence.
“I believe in God, who can respond to prayers, to whom we can give trust and without whom life on this earth would be without meaning (a tale told by an idiot). I believe that God has revealed Himself to us in many ways and through many men and women, and that for us here in the West the clearest revelation is through Jesus and those that have followed him.”
–Sir Nevill Mott,
“I am proud to be a Christian. I believe not only as a Christian, but as a scientist as well. A wireless device can deliver a message through the wilderness. In prayer the human spirit can send invisible waves to eternity, waves that achieve their goal in front of God.”
Hello Real Tom / TTTPS
“When people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them that the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the big bang, so there is no time for god to make the universe in. It’s like asking directions to the edge of the earth; The Earth is a sphere; it doesn’t have an edge; so looking for it is a futile exercise. We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is; there is no god. No one created our universe,and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization; There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful.”
-but he was younger then. He's a bit more hardened now.
Yea, I imagine God operates outside of our human understanding of how the universe operates.
Outside of reality, one might say.
"We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does, so help me God."
I'm surprised the liberals aren't objecting to 'not tolerate' as well.
Very intolerant pledge USAF!
How intolerant to not want to be forced to pray!
Oaths are overall silly no matter what you are doing. Under God, science, logic, Buddha...whatever.....who cares. A liar saying an oath is worthless and an honorable person doesn't need to say one to be good.
Good, now maybe we can go further and get god out of Government fully. Don't get me wrong, while I do believe in something, I also believe that laws should not be based on religion. They should be based on common sense, not what some book a man has re-written for his own gain for thousands of years.
Now get religion out of the pledge and we're all good.
You'll do yourself a favor by not saying the pledge to begin with.
Separation of church and state.. kinda like what our founding fathers intended. Go figure it would take decades for the Air Force to actually make good on that deal. Maybe our money should be next. Oh, and then lets examine the pledge of allegiance that includes god that students are forced to recite in many schools across America.
SEPARATE church and state.
Well we successfully got God out of schools. Maybe things in the Air Force will improve now too.
& our schools went to poop.
Are you pretending that the 10 Commandments had anything to do with this?
no one is denied the right to pray by themselves. it is school sponsored prayer that we no longer have. your hissy fit is noted, though
For the following reasons, true Christians should not 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.”
Didn't you post this already?
No... Or else I wouldn't of been allow to post my comment
Yeah, you fixed the mistake you made on page one, so it's "different".
Nice try. Dissemble much?
My comment went through, so I still think it is not the same comment.
Sorry pal...just pulling your leg :).
The omission of the "god" finally makes an oath that includes other faiths. That's a step in the right direction...for once.