We’re all used to good work on separation of church and state from groups like Americans United, the ACLU, American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, but the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center has won some big victories lately. Here’s the latest:
Attorneys with the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, working with the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, have sent a letter to administrators at Maxwell AFB in Alabama outlining the reasons a forced statement of god-belief is not constitutional, including numerous court cases upholding the right of those who object to oaths with religious language to take a secular version instead.
“A non-religious person cannot be forced to affirm the existence of a God,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Coordinator Bill Burgess. “The law is clear that such demands violate the constitutional mandate of church-state separation and the right to freedom of conscience. This officer-to-be must be allowed to omit theistic language from his commissioning oath.”…Update: Air Force officials have agreed to administer a secular oath and to allow a revision of the written oath the Officer Trainee was required to sign to remove the “so help me God” reference. Maj. Stewart L. Roundtree has written attorneys for the American Humanist Association and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers that the entire graduating class will be informed of the option to take a secular oath and apologized for the error. “Our previous legal advisors were mistaken in advising us that it was required,” Maj. Roundtree wrote. “Our current legal advisors made me aware and we will ensure it reaches all corners of our program.”
Excellent work. I don’t know if the Appignani center is something new, but they’re showing up a lot lately and doing really good work. Kudos to the American Humanist Association.