Air Force Bars Atheist From Reenlisting Unless He Signs And Orally Repeats an Oath To God

1280px-Oath_of_enlistment_·_DF-ST-91-07705150px-Seal_of_the_US_Air_Force.svgThere is an interesting case of religious freedom that has arisen at Creech Air Force base in Nevada where an unnamed airman has been told that he will not be allowed to re-enlist because he does not want to take an oath including the words “so help me God.” He is an atheist and, for obvious reasons, finds the words objectionable. Curiously, despite that fact that he clearly does not believe in God, the Air Force wants him to swear to God as a condition for his serving his country. It is not only a violation of this constitutional rights under the First Amendment but an offense to the many atheists who have served and continue to serve our country.

The American Humanist Association has complained to the Air Force Inspector General that the rule not only violates First Amendment but also Article VI, which bars using a religious test as qualification to any office or public trust of the United States.

The Air Force insists that they have no leeway because the oath is contained in a statute. Notably, however, the Air Force used to allow airmen to omit the words but changed the policy during the Obama Administration. The old version of Air Force Instruction 36-2606 included an exception: “Note: Airmen may omit the words ‘so help me God,’ if desired for personal reasons.” The change in 2013 requires that even atheist be forced to swear to God as a condition for service.

In this case, the airman simply crossed out the phrase “so help me God.” He was told that who have to both sign a statement swearing to God and then recite those words.

The statute, 10 U.S.C. 502, states:

§502. Enlistment oath: who may administer
(a) Enlistment Oath.—Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:
“I, ____________________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Notably, if this goes to court, the airman would not be required to swear to God on a bible as an atheist. Instead, he is allowed to attest that his testimony will be true under an alternative to the religious oath:

If any person of whom an oath is required shall claim religious scruples against taking the same, the word “swear” and the words “so help you God” may be omitted from the foregoing forms, and the word “affirm” and the words “and this you do under the penalties of perjury” shall be substituted therefor, respectively, and such person shall be considered, for all purposes, as having been duly sworn.

The refusal to accommodate the religious beliefs of this service member is deeply disturbing and contravenes core American values. He should challenge the rule under the Declaratory Judgment Act in federal court. He will then doubly serve his country in standing against not just enemies from without but those within our country who refuse to respect the religious or non-religious views of all citizens.

Source: Air Force Times as first seen on ABA Journal

850 thoughts on “Air Force Bars Atheist From Reenlisting Unless He Signs And Orally Repeats an Oath To God”

  1. Televangelist Pat Robertson says it’s “crazy” that the U.S. Air Force will now allow servicemen and women to omit the words “so help me God” from official oaths.

    “What is wrong with the Air Force?” he beseeched viewers on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club” on Thursday.

    The TV preacher seemed especially incensed by Military Religious Freedom Foundation President Mikey Weinstein for pushing the issue.

    “There’s a left-wing radical named Mikey Weinstein who has got a group about people against religion or whatever he calls it, and he has just terrorized the armed forces,” Robertson said. “You think you’re supposed to be tough, you’re supposed to defend us, and you got one little Jewish radical who is scaring the pants off of you.”

    The televangelist added, “You want these guys flying the airplanes to defend us when you got one little guy terrorizing them? That’s what it amounts to.… How can [the Air Force] fly the bombers to defend us if they cave to one little guy?”

    For what it’s worth, the Air Force didn’t “cave” to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation; it instead chose to stick to the U.S. Constitution, which mandates “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

    Like David and others here, these folks who believe in G-d also believe lying by taking an oath using a pledge you do not accept or follow, so you therefore have to have your fingers crossed, is okay.

  2. Bush lied when he said he quit playing golf in support of our troops. Huffington Post has numerous videos of him playing many rounds of golf.

    I’m not an Obama supporter, but I don’t like misrepresentations to get your political agenda across. Do you ever fact check your information David, or do you take it as the holy gospel written according to—-

  3. David,

    I call your ante dote BS for what it is, though it may be hinged in some delusional truth, athiest do not hold meetings. Save that for you new sound bite for the audience you attempting to persuade. It is because of people like you I have made my decision to no have a belief is a God. Sometime you do more damage than good by your BS.

  4. David, David, David, Those people have righteousness on their side. Tactics and laws don’t matter when you are doing what’s right, err left.

    1. Nick, I have a queasy feeling about how Democrats go after votes in the way that this video shows. It seems to corrupt the idea of what voting is meant to do. They complain about money spent by corporations to inform people about voting issues, yet they do not blink an eye about harvesting data from voters they contact and then calling them directly to get them to vote their way. If what they are doing is okay, at least make it legal so Republicans can do it too.

  5. I received an interesting email from President Obama tonight.

    President Obama wrote: “Just because my name isn’t on the ballot, doesn’t mean this election isn’t critical. And no matter what, I’m going to make every last day from now until I leave the White House count. But there’s so much more I can do with a Congress that works with me to get things done.”

    Does it ever occur to him to try to work with the Congress rather than trying to get a Congress that will work with him? Isn’t he the chief executor?

  6. Strange but I can only find right wingsites about this man going to jail. He was a local leader not a main office person.

    And you have the other side: A campaign worker linked to a controversial Republican consulting firm has been arrested in Virginia and charged with throwing voter registration forms into a dumpster.

    The suspect, Colin Small, 31, was described by a local law enforcement official as a “supervisor” in a Republican Party financed operation to register voters in Rockingham County in rural Virginia, a key swing state in the Nov. 6 election. He was arrested after a local business owner in the same Harrisonburg, Va., shopping center where the local GOP campaign headquarters is located spotted Small tossing a bag into the trash, according to a statement Thursday by the Rockingham County Sheriff’s office. The bag was later found to contain eight voter registration forms, it said. The arrest was reported Thursday night by WWBT-TV in Richmond.

  7. leej, Thanks again for your response. We will have to disagree civilly on this. We frustrate each other, but I would not be here if we all agreed. Echo chambers bore the hell outta me. I think we agree on that.

  8. David, 100 hours ago I posted my suggestion. I won’t put myself in Olly’s camp. I don’t like flipping the Blackstone formulation or the Cheney 1% rule. I consider those un=American.

    1. I don’t think the Blackstone rule applies here because voting is not a fundamental right. If a person doesn’t get to vote, it is not a big deal. You put an innocent person in jail for the rest of his life for something he did not do, that is a big deal. That is a terrible injustice. Better that 9 guilty people go free than 1 innocent person suffer this way.

      When people vote fraudulently, that is a much bigger deal than a voter being disenfranchised because he doesn’t have ID.

  9. David, yes, there are many kinds of voter fraud. People do vote in multiple states. Not sure of the following because it wasn’t worth checking at the time, but I think Ann Coulter was accused of this.

    Voter photo ID will not end that kind of fraud. Just get a driver’s license at your summer home and another at your winter home and register to vote in both places. Judges (of the election type) always check the address.

  10. David,

    Here, the official who checks your information is called an election judge. Yes, they are volunteers and the last time I voted they made me wait for about an hour while thay shifted through a snafu. I waited, they worked at it, and I respected their efforts. I guess today they are mocked. Wonderful.

    James O’Keefe is an agitprop, slimy, dishonest, lying propagandist. I would sooner watch an ISIS tape and I sure as hell wouldn’t allow him on my team.

    I understand it is of no consequence to you, but I always respected your sincerity and honest deliberate expression of your ideas. Your recommendation of a James O’Keefe tape as ‘evidence’, a man who has doctored and manipulated his putrid product, without stipulating that there are a lot of stupid jerks in this country who are very willing to relieve their bowels on our voting rights destroys that respect.

    BTW. There is voter fraud, voter impersonation is very rare, and people are convicted. So your earlier comment which I questioned is not factually correct.

    Not that it matters. There is not much truth seeking around here.

    1. docmadison, here is an example of voter impersonation:

      Mississippi NAACP leader sent to prison for 10 counts of voter fraud

      Sowers was found guilty of voting in the names of Carrie Collins, Walter Howard, Sheena Shelton, Alberta Pickett, Draper Cotton and Eddie Davis. She was also convicted of voting in the names of four dead persons: James L. Young, Dora Price, Dorothy Harris, and David Ross.

      In the trial, forensic scientist Bo Scales testified that Sowers’s DNA was found on the inner seals of five envelopes containing absentee ballots.

      I know you did not understand my analysis before, but I think voter fraud is WAY underestimated. It is not often pursued, and it is difficult to prosecute.

      If you think about it, voter fraud has been much better documented as a problem than voter disenfranchisement.

      Nevertheless, we should agree with Olly, that we should work toward allowing everyone qualified to vote to be able to vote, and to keep voter fraud from ever happening. Surely that is something we can agree upon.

  11. Nick I see it but he did not vote and we do not know if in fact he would have been permitted to do so. You are putting an ending that you want on something that did not happen and we do not know if it would have.
    When I vote they find me on the rolls and then I have to sign next to my last signature which is how they verify me (and btw forget if you or Paul said this but usually my pollwatchers are rarely senior citizens

    Paul I recall that fandango. I don’t know about the getting the answers they wanted but you know as well as I that everything on TV tends to be edited because of the time restrictions, Dan Rather got canned for a bad story

  12. Paul an article that uses words like “Both facts are obviously untrue ” wothut proof and “apparently altered ” with no proof just as 2 examples. That was a review by a reviewer who has positions obviously opposite of those presented by Moore so I cant take it seriously. There is no question Moore has a viewpoint and he makes movies that agree with his positions, But we all know that. O’keefe tried to present “proof” of voter fraud and he was found to be the fraud. And in more then that one instance

  13. leej, Thanks for your lengthy response. Thanks for taking the time to watch the video. There is no “matching” of signatures. You provide a name and address, sign saying you are that person, and then vote. No ID. They didn’t want to see an ID. They just wanted a signature. He could have signed “Eric Holder” and voted as him. That you can’t see this is instructive.

    1. leejcaroll – just because someone does not agree with Michael Moore does not make them a bad person. They are a person who can think. Please do not mix O’Keefe and Moore. We can do one, then the other.

  14. I wrote: Thanks Darren and it refused it, said You already said that (from a note way upthread/. Weird)

  15. You’re right, Olly. It is silly of me to resort to shouting. Your position is clear. I believe you would feel ever so sad that 50 legal citizens were unable to vote due to some stupid, officious bureaucratic error, but by golly, we protected the integrity of the vote.

    I can’t help thinking of Blackstone’s formulation flipped on it’s head…the one about the ten innocent vs one guilty. Or Cheney’s 1% policy.

    I won’t live my life that way. Here’s hoping my country won’t either.

  16. O’Keefe’s tapes were misleading, doctored, and edited, yet reported as fact by the right wing press as well as CNN, the Washington Post, and the New York Times, and now the New Yorker.

    O’Keefe never posed as a pimp when he talked to ACORN staffers. He presented himself as a friend, or boyfriend, or a colleague of Giles, who was posing as the prostitute. O’Keefe wore a dress shirt and Khakis when he entered ACORN offices, and later spliced in shots of himself wearing the pimp outfit in the final videos to make it appear that he had worn them in the meetings with ACORN. To sensationalize the tape, O’Keefe dressed up in cartoonish pimp garb for the bumpers shown on television. The outlandish costume aimed to make ACORN’s African-American intake staff look like buffoons. Despite O’Keefe’s refusal to release the original, unedited footage, the media would be duped into erroneously reporting or suggesting that O’Keefe pretended to be her pimp.

    ACORN’s Baltimore office was just one of ten O’Keefe and Giles entered. In most of the offices ACORN’s staff turned the pair away, reported the couple to the police, refused to provide them any aid, and in one case tried to convince the phony prostitute to get counseling. In no ACORN office did employees file any paperwork on the duo’s behalf.

    Independent investigations of the incident by the former Attorney General of Massachusetts, the Brooklyn District Attorney, California’s Attorney General, a federal district court, the Congressional Research Office concluded that ACORN had done nothing illegal, the tapes were doctored, and O’Keefe never posed as a pimp inside ACORN’s offices. In an interview with the Washington Independent, Giles admitted that the images of O’Keefe in an outlandish pimp outfit were edited in later. While Mead conceded that the tapes did not expose endemic corruption at ACORN or any evidence of any actual wrongdoing by Baltimore employees, her piece left the overall impression there was something very wrong at ACORN.

    (I know youll pooh pooh it cause its frm Huffington but the facts are the same and you can find them easily using a google search

    1. leejcaroll – 60 Minutes doctored edited 3 hours of interviews down to 43 minutes of scandal on General Westmoreland. They actually re-interviewed people to get the answers they wanted. Sadly, the Supreme Court said they could do that.

Comments are closed.