The US Air Force Academy oath section that ends with “so help me God” is now optional.
The honor code, which cadets recite once a year, states that “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) complained that the “God” reference violated the separation of church and state under the US Constitution.
In response to the MRFF complaint, Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson said in a statement yesterday that “Here at the academy, we work 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. So, in the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the honor oath with ‘so help me God.’ ”
MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force academy graduate and the father of two graduates, wasn’t satisfied with this decision and is pressing the Air Force to drop the reference entirely. “The Air Force Academy took the cowardly route. From our perspective, it still creates a tremendous amount of unconstitutional turmoil… for anyone who is a religious objector.”
He added that making the phrase optional would in effect stigmatize the cadets who declined to say it.
Weinstein — who has no objection to cadets including the language on their own — may file a lawsuit against the Air Force to compel them to eliminate the “so help me God” reference. He was separately interviewed by Megyn Kelly on The Kelly File; see embed below.
Apparently the oath with has contained this wording since 1984 following a cheating scandal at the academy. The equivalent oath at the US Military Academy at West Point has no reference to God in its language.
According to the Air Force Times, “The MRFF has been a vocal critic of the academy over nearly the last decade for allowing evangelical Christian airmen to proselytize their faith to cadets. The academy is trying to address that, and recently created a religious respect program.”
Do you think the Air Force should and/or eventually will officially change the oath to remove the reference to God?