Well that didn’t take long, but it shouldn’t have been necessary at all. The Air Force has decided to actually follow that pesky constitution and allow an airman to reenlist without ending his oath with “so help me God.” And they’re going to change their instructions to prevent this from happening again:
The Air Force has instructed force support offices across the service to allow both enlisted members and officers to omit the words “So help me God” from enlistment and officer appointment oaths if an Airman chooses.
In response to concerns raised by Airmen, the Department of the Air Force requested an opinion from the Department of Defense General Counsel addressing the legal parameters of the oath. The resulting opinion concluded that an individual may strike or omit the words “So help me God” from an enlistment or appointment oath if preferred.“We take any instance in which Airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “We are making the appropriate adjustments to ensure our Airmen’s rights are protected.”
The Air Force will be updating the instructions for both enlisted and commissioned Airmen to reflect these changes in the coming weeks, but the policy change is effective now. Airmen who choose to omit the words ‘So help me God’ from enlistment and officer appointment oaths may do so.
Cue the howls of outrage from the Christian right in 3…2…1