Texas Congressman is on the Warpath to Make Atheist Military Cadets Swear an Oath Containing ‘So Help Me God’

Sam Johnson (R-TX), once named the most conservative Member of Congress by National Journal, thinks atheists in the military should be forced to acknowledge God and swear a pledge to the Almighty. He’s even introduced a bill to make that happen.

Johnson’s initiative is a response to the U.S. Air Force top command’s recent decision to make saying “So help me God” optional when cadets pledge they’ll abide by the military code of honor. In other words, cadets who want to say that phrase may do exactly that, as before; those who don’t will swear the oath just the same, but without the deity reference.

Sound reasonable? Not to Johnson it doesn’t.

Rep. Sam Johnson

On his blog, he writes:

In response to the U.S. Air Force Academy’s unilateral decision to make the phrase, ‘so help me God’ of the Cadet Honor Oath optional, I introduced H.R. 3416, a bill that would require congressional approval prior to any change to Oaths of Office. I was joined by original co-sponsor Congressman Pete Olson (TX-22).

Our Founding Fathers declared we are, “One nation under God,” and you better believe I’ll fight like mad to keep it that way. I can tell you from experience, there are no atheists in foxholes. We are the land of the free because of the brave. Many people don’t know this, but when you survive a near-death experience [as Johnson did when he was a POW in Vietnam, TF], you realize that the only thing you had to hold on to was your faith in God.

I left him a message through his Facebook page:

Dear Mr. Johnson: Cadets who want to say “so help me God” continue to be free to do so. Those who do not believe in God and wish to serve their country shouldn’t have to have their conscience violated. I’m pretty sure you’d feel the same way if the shoe was on the other foot and you were made to swear an oath that you felt was against your convictions. Live and let live, Congressman. How about it?

If the comments under his blog post are any guide, Johnson’s Christian base is fired up.

Melvin Cleveland, a retiree, opines

I completely agree. If atheists are true athiests put a gun to their childs head and see how many “God Help Me”s you will hear.

Deanna Patterson, an “overnight stocker at Walmart,” adds:

What have we become. When people are try to take god from us.

“What have we become?” I think I know. We’ve become (or are about to become) a more sensible and egalitarian nation that doesn’t coerce believers into saying words that atheists insist upon (as if), and vice versa.

It would probably be futile to point out to Ms. Patterson that no one is trying to take God from her. What will change, under the Air Force’s new rule, is that atheists who wish to join the military will be allowed to leave God out of their oath. “I so swear and affirm” will do nicely, just as it has done in courtrooms across our country for decades. The sky hasn’t fallen — nor will it now.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.


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