When a service member stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada decided to reenlist last month, his contract included the words “So help me God.”
He decided to cross the phrase out, which should be perfectly acceptable, but the Air Force said he had to include it or get out. Now, the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center is stepping in:
… he was told he must sign the religious oath potion of the enlistment form without adjustment. Requiring [redacted] to take an oath containing this religious affirmation violates his clearly established constitutional rights under the First Amendment. This letter demands that you immediately allow [redacted] to reenlist using a secular affirmation and that the Air Force accept his written enlistment form in a way that reflects his secular affirmation…
If [redacted] is not administered a secular oath, the commanding officers may be sued in federal court for injunctive and declaratory relief. In addition, because the law in this area is well establishes, those commanders may be sued in their individual capacities and be personally liable for damages along with attorneys’ fees.
It’s just bananas that an officer would flip out over those four words. What’s more is that the service member displayed a lot of integrity by not signing the form as is. If he did, he’d be lying to himself and the Air Force. Instead, he took the honest route by saying those words didn’t apply to him… and he got punished for it.
There should be a quick resolution on this, but there’s no reason it should have taken an attorney’s letter to make it happen.