The American Family Association seems to be having a bit of trouble deciding which side it’s on in the battle over forcing members of the military to swear an oath “so help me God.” Bryan Fischer, the “director of issues analysis” says that atheists should be banned from the military and all soldiers should be forced to swear such an oath. The group’s chief counsel, Patrick Vaughn, rightly points out that this is unconstitutional:
Refusing to allow an Air Force sergeant who is an atheist to reenlist on the grounds that he will not take a “so help me God” oath violates Article 6 of the Constitution and the First Amendment. The loyalty oath is required by a single sentence in Article 6 that also allows a non-religious affirmation as an acceptable alternative and stipulates that no religious test shall ever be required (1). Long ago, the Court of Military Appeals clarified that “In cases of affirmation the phrase ‘So help you God’ will be omitted” (2)…Nevertheless, the Constitution was adopted with the “no religious test” clause, which was subsequently reinforced by the First Amendment. In 1961 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government’s refusal to accept an atheist’s loyalty affirmation would “unconstitutionally invade the [individual’s] freedom of belief and religion” (5).
The men who adopted the Constitution wisely evaluated that the tyranny of allowing government to judge whether a citizen was acceptably religious was a greater threat to the nation than allowing a person’s statement of loyalty to stand without an oath.
Hell, even Gordon Klingenschmitt, says that they should be allowed to omit that phrase from the oath. Apparently, Klingenschmitt and Vaughn aren’t quite theocratic and fascist enough for Bryan Fischer.