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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changeth things

    October 26, 2013 at 5:35 am |
    • John Sharp

      Oddly enough, for you at least, after much review and analysis it has been scientifically determined that prayer doesn't change anything at all. Nothing.

      Yes science stepped in to tell everyone that talking to your imaginary friend in your head does not help improve the outcome.

      October 26, 2013 at 6:33 am |
      • Observer

        Without God there would be no science and no "study' is ever impartial.

        October 26, 2013 at 6:36 am |
        • sam stone.

          Nonsense, Observer

          Which god are you talking about?

          October 26, 2013 at 7:18 am |
        • John Sharp

          Don't be so simple minded.

          Science does not need your little god to exist.

          and "no study is impartial" Ha Ha. That is nice little out for you when you are proven wrong, how cute. Oh the study wasn't partial, lol.

          I am sorry that you still believe in fairy tales but most of us have grown up.

          October 26, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • Observer

          Sam Stone,
          John Sharp,

          Be aware that the comment above came from a "Christian" who has LIED about who they are.

          October 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
        • Susan StoHelit

          At least one of those studies came from a bunch of Christian doctors, who were sure they would be able to prove that prayer does change things. So there was bias – in favor of finding that prayer worked. A long, and properly done study later – they had to conclude that prayer did not change the outcome in any way.

          October 28, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
      • nope

        @jon tack

        October 26, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • Science

      Hey Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things................below is what is good for CHILDREN and adults

      Texas Textbook Publishers Say No To Creationism: Watchdog Report .

      October 26, 2013 at 6:52 am |
      • Colin

        If you can't think for yourself it might be best to leave it alone. Without God there would be no science. You do well with repeating someone else' thoughts when you have some of your own get back to us.

        October 26, 2013 at 6:58 am |
      • Science

        Maybe you and Ted Cruz should go back to school !

        October 26, 2013 at 7:13 am |
        • Colin

          Ted and I are winners. Sorry about you.

          October 26, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  2. Observer

    For sure, this batch of rejects deserves what's in store for them and more.

    October 26, 2013 at 5:13 am |
    • sam stone.

      blah, blah, fvcking blah

      October 26, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Are you suggesting that god could have made hell even worse? Did he set the dial on 7.5 instead of at "eleven" like you would wish? Maybe once you're in heaven god will allow you a chance to control the thermostat in hell, and you can show him how it's done?

      October 26, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  3. children of Israel

    Remember when Africa was called the dark continent broken down into countries. Now it's been divided up into directions of north, south, east, and west.

    October 26, 2013 at 4:21 am |
    • Spectator

      Gee, this is **really** weird. We have those same designations (north, south, west, east) in my small city in California. It must be a sign of something supernatural, right?

      October 26, 2013 at 4:44 am |
      • Kebos

        Wow, we use those same designations up here in Canada too! A freaky coincidence or the very work of Lucifer himself?

        October 26, 2013 at 5:48 am |
        • Crom

          You guys aren't going to believe this but...

          October 26, 2013 at 5:50 am |
  4. children of Israel

    Is it against the law to talk about the past? (Deuteronomy 32:7) Hamites and Ishmaelites sold the Israelites as slaves to Edomites.

    October 26, 2013 at 4:09 am |
    • Spectator

      Whooptie-doo! And the Israelites turned right around and enslaved others... and their "God" character even told them how they could obtain and punish those slaves, and also told the slaves to obey their owners.

      October 26, 2013 at 4:59 am |
    • Claude Bawls

      Well I hear that the slavery of that time wasn't the same as the slavery in America. So the Israelites being sold into slavery wasn't that big of a deal.

      October 26, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  5. children of Israel

    Remember, Alex Haley Roots? Those Africans Hamites were praying to Allah the Islamic Ishmaelites Muslim god. What is a terrorists? (Genesis 35:5)

    October 26, 2013 at 3:42 am |
    • Kebos

      G35:5 – "While Jacob and his family were traveling through Canaan, God terrified the people in the towns so much that no one dared bother them."

      So God was a terrorist when he was younger? Has He mellowed out in his older age?

      October 26, 2013 at 5:51 am |
  6. children of Israel

    Lot fleed Sodom and ended up in drunkard state in a cave with his own daughters (2nd Peter 2:7)

    October 26, 2013 at 3:32 am |
  7. children of Israel

    Sodom is sodomy (Deuteronomy 23:17)

    October 26, 2013 at 3:27 am |
  8. BigBankTheory

    Religion should be condemned, not condoned, just like any other fraud. Respecting "religion" is insane.

    October 26, 2013 at 3:13 am |
  9. children of Israel

    Jacob was blessed by God before he was ever named Israel (Genesis 27:29) Christ came out of Jacob son Judah (Hebrews 7:14)

    October 26, 2013 at 2:51 am |
  10. children of Israel

    When you break the laws and commandments of the Bible, the curses and plagues of Bible will come upon you. (Deuteronomy 28:68) If you break America's laws, do people go to jail? Why is mankind telling women what to do with their own bodies? (1st Corinthians 7:4) Gays have rights unlike Sodom (Isaiah 3:9) And the handicapped (Exodus 15:26)

    October 26, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Observer

      children of Israel,

      The sin of Sodom was GREED, not being gay. Read a Bible.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:36 am |
      • Observer

        Your sins are more abundant than the stars and u r going to burn for every one of them

        October 26, 2013 at 5:11 am |
      • Observer

        qu eer was just one aspect of their personalities. Because they were qu eer they were greedy.When you're qu eer all sins are upon you.

        October 26, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • tallulah13

      Empty threats from an old book of middle eastern mythology will not stop the progress of human rights.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:39 am |
      • Observer

        Sinners who think they mock god with impunity will soon burn

        October 26, 2013 at 5:12 am |
        • Observer

          The word god refers to an idol. To a believer an idol can and should be exposed and mocked. No one is ever condemned for mocking an idol, If you mean God say God.

          October 26, 2013 at 5:34 am |
        • sam stone.

          your god is a nasty mythological punk

          and you are a bloviating coward

          a 12 gauge gets you there immediately

          October 26, 2013 at 7:25 am |
      • Colin

        Without God there are no human rights.

        October 26, 2013 at 6:01 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Human rights have nothing to do with your imaginary friend. Your imaginary friend is not the only imaginary friend people have believed in, many came before and many will come after. Human rights apply to everyone regardless of what you may wish to think and honestly you're not such a good christian (you give the belief a VERY bad name) when you attempt to deny rights based on your imaginary friends supposed words (no way to confirm that the bible is anything more than the words of primitive, uneducated man).

          October 26, 2013 at 6:36 am |
        • captain america

          Well well the pretend American is back . Still pretending its one of US and has American rights, guess what dip sh it you don't so go screw yourself we don't need ya. There's your sign

          October 26, 2013 at 6:39 am |
      • John Sharp


        Soon we will be out of these dark ages where simple minded people no longer talk to an imaginary friend in their head and think magical thoughts.

        October 26, 2013 at 6:36 am |
        • Colin

          Whatever one so called atheist lies to another will swear to... and it uses the same words how lame is that?

          October 26, 2013 at 6:40 am |
      • Observer

        DM Murdock, did u hear that, u moron?!

        October 26, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Susan StoHelit

      In reality, when you break the laws and commandments of the Bible – nothing happens.

      Sorry – that's the truth.

      October 28, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  11. Douglas

    There are NO atheists in foxholes!

    October 26, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • Crom

      Not true.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Shut up, Jeffy; you've overstayed your welcome.

      LOL; spoken like a person who has never been IN a foxhole. Shut up.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • Observer


      You apparently may not know the difference between BELIEVING there is a God and WISHING there was a God.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:37 am |
    • tallulah13

      Douglas, if you don't know what you are talking about, perhaps you shouldn't say anything. Your lies make you look foolish.


      October 26, 2013 at 2:43 am |
    • John Sharp

      Sorry that is a silly little statement made by religious people that only reveals that their belief system is based on fear.

      I am an Atheist. I served in the Marine Corps and we were in quite a few heavy combat situations.

      And I stayed an Atheist even under heavy fire. No big accomplishment.

      Having a childish belief in a supernatural being that participates in our lives has no place in a rational mind. Period.

      October 26, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • sam stone.

      still dreaming about holes, are ya doogie?

      still doing that "youth ministering"?

      boinking the little jeebus freaks in the back quarters?

      October 26, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  12. children of Israel

    Hebrew 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire. (Obadiah 1:18)

    October 26, 2013 at 2:01 am |
    • Shut up, Jeffy; you've overstayed your welcome.

      Obediah 1:18:
      The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau stubble; they shall burn them and consume the, and there shall be no survivor to the house of Esau; for the LORD has spoken.

      Again, random verses for no reason. Shut up.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:17 am |
  13. children of Israel

    Name America's god? If there is no god, the state of Israel is a lie. (Revelation 2:9 and 3:9)

    October 26, 2013 at 1:55 am |
  14. children of Israel

    If there is no god, the state of Israel is a lie. (Revelation 2:9 and 3:9)

    October 26, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • Spectator

      It sounds like you think Israel is special. It's just another country... one of nearly 200 right now in the world, some of which are very old with complicated histories.

      October 26, 2013 at 4:53 am |
    • truthprevails1

      COI: Just a little simple minded, aren't you? Care to back your babble with facts that are based in the 21st century or are you only capable of using the bible to think?

      October 26, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • captain america

      Pay no mind to the simple minded foreigner it can't even use proper capitalization. A testament to its "scientific" education no doubt.canadfians are notoriously nosey ain't they.There's your sign

      October 26, 2013 at 6:54 am |
      • AtheistSteve

        Says the doofus who fails to capitalize Captain America (title or proper name) and Canadian (country of origin).
        You really are a hopeless idiot.

        October 26, 2013 at 7:17 am |
        • sam stone.

          No, CA is just a troll. Perhaps another incarnation of faith/hhari/etc

          October 26, 2013 at 7:30 am |
      • truthprevails1

        No Steve, doofus is too polite for this fucktard! Inevitably this thing has no comprehension that a) We're not foreigners, we're its neighbors who always fight beside them and b) Freedom of speech is universal (until suppressed by freaks like this).

        CA: You're beyond clueless. An education in the real world is usually beneficial...think you can convince Mommy and Daddy (aka GrandDaddy) to let you attend a real school???

        October 26, 2013 at 7:33 am |
  15. mork121

    Doesn't getting a bullet in the face violate their rights also? How about going in a porta potty in 130F heat for 7 months?

    October 26, 2013 at 1:43 am |
  16. children of Israel

    Every religion has their own god to pray to, so what god is America praying to? (Jeremiah 10:11) *Deuteronomy 32:37*

    October 26, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Observer

      children of Israel,

      They are praying to the same God they have for centuries. It's the one who supports slavery and discriminates against women, gays, and the handicapped.

      October 26, 2013 at 1:40 am |
      • fred

        ........and you claim the right has unsupported positions and fails to do their homework on a subject.

        October 26, 2013 at 1:48 am |
        • Observer


          You got humiliated a couple of nights ago when you claimed that "no vengeance" means "yes vengeance" and "person" and "property" were the same thing.

          Do you really want to bring it up again?

          October 26, 2013 at 1:49 am |
        • fred

          Some other time, as it looks like I need to start with the basics. Vengeance in mine says the Lord. Only God knows the reason why an owner struck a slave with a rod and if that slave died sometime latter only God knows if it was directly or indirectly tied to the rod incident. Only God knows the heart of the owner and if it was intentional harm. God will take vengeance upon the owner of a slave that is mistreated. Now, if the slave dies right away it is clear the owner killed him and the punishment for killing is death. Now, nowhere in any other society at that time did an owner lose his life for killing a slave. But, the Hebrews were a special people a holy people onto God they were not like the wicked ones all around them.

          Have a good weekend I gotta run

          October 26, 2013 at 2:05 am |
        • Peregrine

          Fred, no matter how hard you try to sell your kinder, gentler re-imagining of Jewish slavery, it is wrong to own another human being. There is no gray area here, no context or translation problems. It is wrong.

          October 26, 2013 at 4:36 am |
        • Crom

          My question is why would someone try so hard to gloss over slavery? I don't like the possibilities at all.

          October 26, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • jarhead333

      Have you actually read that verse, and do you understand what that means in context?

      October 26, 2013 at 1:41 am |
      • John Sharp

        Dude, stop giving these primitive writings that kind of weight.

        There are no hidden meanings, it is just horribly written.

        October 26, 2013 at 6:48 am |
      • AtheistSteve

        In context? You mean spinning it to mean what you want it to mean? The Bible is useless if you can point to stuff that supports your claims while at the same time I can point to stuff that directly contradicts you. There is something extremely suspect about a text supposedly inspired by God that can't get its story straight, is wide open to differing interpretations and contains clearly false information. If this is the best your God can do?

        October 26, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Shut up, Jeffy; you've overstayed your welcome.

      Jeremiah 10:11:
      Thus shall you say to them: "the gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from under the earth and from under the heavens."
      Deuteronomy 32:37:
      Then he will say, 'Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge,'

      What you are doing is just vomiting up random Bible verses that has nothing to do with your "connecting" first sentence. Shut up.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:01 am |
  17. children of Israel

    The president and the government can never say God bless America ever again! (Ezekiel 21:23) *Matthew 5:33*

    October 26, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • tallulah13

      Sure they can. If they want. They have the same First Amendment protections that you do.

      October 26, 2013 at 1:09 am |
    • Blasphemer

      The children of Israel are today's terrorists.

      October 26, 2013 at 1:25 am |
      • jarhead333

        Terrorists, please explain?

        October 26, 2013 at 1:41 am |
  18. Cpt. Obvious

    Y do thambo not get deleted? The judge asked dodo. Dodo be quiet for first time in his life. Dodo, I asked u a question. U want to get locked IP for contempt? Biut judge, how do I no about thambo? I just lie and steal and cheat and delete. I don't noed about this thambo fellar. U stole that blog and ran it like Hitler and u noed nothin? I no u r an idiot. I no u is stupid. Now I no u is guilty as sin! Bailiff, throw that hag in prison!

    October 26, 2013 at 12:46 am |
    • faith is a lying troll Christian.

      My GOD, you're an idiot. Seek help for you stone obsession n and your name thievery. Hypocrite.

      October 26, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • sam stone.

      how's that big, big, big lawsuit coming, cpt d-bag?

      October 26, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Interesting. CNN deletes my sensible and sincere posts, but lets this name-stealing azzhole post his ridiculous sh!t.

      Thanks, CNN

      October 26, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  19. Cpt. Obvious

    I love thambo. How comes nobody else do? She's sweet and nice and wants to harm Palin with rpe.

    October 26, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  20. jarhead333

    As a veteran, I am surprised this has not happened sooner. In the Marine Corps, every event begins with prayer. I had many brothers that were atheist, and that is fine. I never heard any of them complain about the prayers or any other religious issues they had during ceremonies. The country was founded on religious freedom, not just Christianity. I am a Christian and while I like the prayers and religious aspects of the military, I understand the decision.

    October 26, 2013 at 12:28 am |
    • Dave Green

      Very reasonable comment

      October 26, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • David

      What a thoughtful and mature comment.

      October 26, 2013 at 12:42 am |
    • Lamb of Dog

      I was going to come on here and make fun of people. But after reading such a fair comment I can no longer be a jerk for tonight.

      October 26, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      Thank you for clearly demonstrating the difference between earning respect and demanding respect. I really enjoyed reading your comment.

      October 26, 2013 at 12:53 am |
    • jarhead333

      I am genuinely disappointed in fellow Christians that feel that religion in this country is not a choice. That actually goes against our faith. I hope that other people realize that there are radicals in every religion, and belief, but we should not be represented by those as a whole.

      October 26, 2013 at 12:56 am |
      • Crom

        If you follow a delusional ideology, you can't realistically expect anything but different types of schizophrenia to occur within the group. Complaining about your "image" is laughable when you are known to be delusional and follow a delusional ideology.
        You sound no different than a Muslim complaining that the latest suicide bomber wasn't a real representative of Islam, despite being exhorted and praised by the imams who sent the bomber with direct orders to do the deed.
        You follow an ideology filled with batshit violence and crazy-talk. Your concerns are duly noted and filed accordingly.

        October 26, 2013 at 1:15 am |
        • jarhead333

          Sounds like you are one of the opposing radicals I was talking about.

          October 26, 2013 at 1:24 am |
        • Crom

          I am not a mainstream-following numbskull, no. I oppose religion for many excellent reasons and have the Constitution on my side. The same document you swore to uphold, defend, etc. Do you now renounce that oath or what? Ha.

          October 26, 2013 at 1:28 am |
        • jarhead333

          Now I am not sure that you have read any of my posts. Not quite sure what it is that you are arguing. I do stand by the oath I took.

          October 26, 2013 at 1:35 am |
        • Crom

          I am glad you feel that way. I wasn't seriously asking you that, though. It was a rhetorical question.

          October 26, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • Trinka

          Crom, you're being a dick for no reason. Stand down.

          October 26, 2013 at 3:03 am |
        • Crom

          Trinka, I am amazed that you think you now have mental telepathy. Not so amazed that you guessed wrong, though.

          October 26, 2013 at 3:26 am |
    • Crom

      I should add that this country was founded on respecting the rights of others for mutual support and peaceful coexistence in the face of overwhelming religious tyranny and internecine religious wars. That "freedom" you talk about is the freedom to be left alone by all the other religions as you practice your own within the common law, not the freedom to do any damn thing you want.
      It is also the right to have a government free of any such influences that would violate your freedoms, including your religious freedoms.
      With that said, your freedom of religion is actually the freedom to be delusional, to act delusional, and to be free of the delusional actions of your delusional neighbors who follow different delusions than you.
      At no point do you ever get the right to have a mini-theocracy in your hometown or even your HOUSE.
      Your religious laws that say to kill are illegal here. You can't even do them in your HOME.
      Thank you for this opportunity to rant a bit. And thank you for any service you have done for this country. But we've talked b4.

      October 26, 2013 at 1:25 am |
      • jarhead333

        And you are still a troll. I have never had a "real" discussion with you, because you run from that. I wish that you would actually welcome an intelligent discussion, rather than insult everyone who opposes your own views. If I am not mistaken, isn't that what you dislike about Christians? Seems pretty hypocritical to me.

        October 26, 2013 at 2:13 am |
        • Crom

          That's like asking why I'm here and acting surprised that a secular humanist like me would care enough to fight religion tooth and nail. You should know better and I bet you do.
          Be that as it may, I don't oppose Christians, I oppose Christianity. You are free to think for yourself, but since you are de facto delusional, you represent a greater risk to everyone, as you might have a small stroke and hear your 'god' telling you it's time to kill and you would do so, because if you think you've got your 'god' on your side, no human laws or anything else matters.

          I don't know why you want to have a discussion with me, as I prefer to have a rational conversation with rational people.
          And you can't have a discussion here. This is a comment board, not a chat room.

          I oppose lies and liars, delusional ideologies and bad logic / reasoning.
          My logic is fine.
          Yours cannot help but suffer under the perceptual and cognitive biases of your mental state. I cannot reasonably trust you for things that are influenced or might be influenced by your schizophrenia.
          If I cannot trust you to even think, much less speak, on things that will show this bias, then our options are very limited in terms of interaction.

          Yes, I'm a hypocrite about some things. Not necessarily the things you imagine, but that's okay.

          Where is the insult in stating your lack of ethical cohesion due to your poor brainwashed brain? What would you say to zombies if they could actually type comments instead of growling as they approach?

          And mental illness is just a health condition, not an immoral one. People don't choose to be sick.

          When I say delusional, I mean just that. And it's not an insult, so you're quite mistaken there.
          It's just a medical condition. You are the one brainwashed into thinking mentally ill people are responsible for being mentally ill and that they are then guilty of being cursed or of making bad choices on purpose.

          You attach stigma to mental illness because you don't know any better. I am attaching stigma to what is part of the roots of the problem – religion – because it is the most disgusting, horrendous, evil as fuck con-games ever stumbled into by humanity. Our brains are vulnerable to this sort of madness because it is an outgrowth of a more primitive cognitive function deeper within the brain. You are in a cage. You like it there, right? So enjoy your cage / crib / cave and don't be surprised that someone wants to type a bunch of crap for whatever reason.
          Comment blog. Not a chat room. Thanks for playing troll to my troll, troll. ;-)

          October 26, 2013 at 3:16 am |
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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.