Claiming Americans don’t have “freedom from religion,” a GOP lawmaker from Texas has introduced federal legislation that would force Air Force Academy cadets to swear an oath to God.
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) introduced HR 1425, the Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015, also known as the “so help me God” bill, claiming the legislation “Defends Religious Freedom for America’s Troops,” yet it does the exact opposite.
The bill is an unconstitutional effort to require Air Force Academy cadets to say “so help me, God” in oaths they are required to recite every year. Indeed, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution clearly states:
… no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
Rather than protecting freedom, the legislation denies cadets the freedom to decide for themselves if they will or will not acknowledge God, in essence forcing them to take and pass a “religious test” as a condition of service.
In a press release Rep. Johnson says the bill is in response to the U.S. Air Force Academy’s 2013 decision to make the final clause of the Cadet Honor Oath, which states “so help me God,” optional.
In the release Johnson declares:
Let me be clear: Americans have the freedom of religion – but not freedom from religion.
Rep. Johnson is wrong. To be clear: There can be no freedom of religion without freedom from religion. If Johnson believes freedom of religion doesn’t include freedom from religion, he doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “freedom.”
More to the point, to force another to swear an oath to God has absolutely nothing to do with freedom, and everything to do with tyranny.
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says that Johnson “should be tried for treason and sedition” for proposing such a bill. In a statement given to the Colorado Springs Independent Weinstein said:
Congressman Sam Johnson should be tried for treason and sedition. The astounding ignorance and bigotry displayed by his brazen presentation of this proposed wretched sectarian legislation is literally mind-ripping. Not only does it viciously savage United States constitutional religious protections afforded all American citizens, including members of the U.S. military, it also provides an unparalleled bonanza of propaganda for our fundamentalist Islamic enemies such as Isis, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Additionally, it enrages our Islamic allies and utterly desecrates and destroys military unit cohesion, good order, morale and discipline. The United States Congress should at the very least censure this constitutionally derelict villain and universally despicable human being.
Weinstein’s delicious rant is over the top, but in the main he is correct. The proposed legislation is “wretched,” and it does in fact “viciously savage” constitutional protections afforded all American citizens, including members of the U.S. military.
Reporting on the story, Digital Journal points out a dangerous trend, the “Christianization of the American military”:
The Christianization of the American military, especially in the wake of the September 11, 2001 Islamist terror attacks on the United States, has been especially acute at USAFA. Christian indoctrination, religious intolerance and bullying, and virulent anti-Semitism have all plagued the prestigious institution during the post-9/11 era.
While Jim Reeves, writing for Visalia, asks:
Why doesn’t this Texas Republican (Rep. Johnson) love the U.S. Constitution?
It’s a good question.
Clearly Rep. Johnson has no love or respect for the secular values upon which this nation was founded, and no love or respect for the U.S. Constitution.
Instead of worrying about the oath Air Force Academy cadets take, the congressman should be worrying about the oath he took to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Johnson is failing to uphold that oath, and failing the nation he was elected to serve.