Air Force Academy cadets are no longer required to say “so help me God” at the end of the Honor Oath, school officials said Friday.
The words were made optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, that they violated the constitutional concept of religious freedom.
Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson said the change was made to respect cadets’ freedom of religion.The oath states, “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.”
Cadets are required to take the oath once a year, academy spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal said.
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, welcomed the change but questioned how it will be applied.
If the person leading the oath includes the words, cadets who choose not to say them might feel vulnerable to criticism, he said.
“What does it mean, `optional’?” Weinstein said. “The best thing is to eliminate it.”