Air Force Academy Makes ‘So Help Me God’ Optional In Its Honor Oath

Until Friday, if you were a freshman at the U.S. Air Force Academy, you would have concluded your Basic Cadet Training by reciting this Honor Oath:

“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.”

It’s that last clause that Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation fought to remove for so long and they just got their wish:

On Friday, the AFA released a statement saying they had decided to make the final clause of the honor oath optional.

The AFA statement read, in part, “Here at the Academy, we world to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, Airmen and civilian Airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference –- or not.”

This is a completely sensible change. Religious students are welcome to add the clause in if they choose but no one is forced to say it against their will. Who could possibly be against that?!

Oh. Right. Fox News Channel, where Megyn Kelly discussed the story with Mikey Weinstein before the final decision was made:

Oh! And also Fox News Channel, where Gretchen Carlson discussed the story with our friend Dave Muscato of American Atheists and two other religious blowhards (beginning at the 3:56 mark):

Carlson didn’t seem to understand that no one was prohibiting religious cadets from saying the phrase if they wanted to:

Carlson: “America is 78% Christian. Dave, are you honestly gonna tell me, when we have a fighter pilot up trying to save our nation… that he or she will not be able to say ‘So help me God’ and you’re okay with that?”

Muscato: “… there is nothing stopping them from saying that to themselves or even saying it out loud.”

Carlson: “But why does one person go to change what the majority of Americans believe?”

Muscato: “Because we have the First Amendment… Just because you have a majority of Christians in this country doesn’t mean that Christians get to decide what happens for everybody.”

Dave wins this round by being honest.

Every else loses for making this a bigger deal than it really is.

This change in the oath benefits everybody while the old oath was a slap in the face to atheists who enlist in the Air Force. It’s incredible how offended and outraged the right-wing fanatics get whenever people opt for more tolerance. Inclusion for all means less Christian privilege for them and they can’t take it.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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