Tags: atheist | air force | oath | god | religion

Atheist Airman to Get Boot If He Doesn't Swear Oath's 'So Help Me God'

By    |   Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 03:47 PM

An Atheist airman who was denied re-enlistment in late August has been given an ultimatum by the military: Take an oath that ends with the phrase "so help me God," or leave the service in November, the Air Force Times reports.

The airman, who has not been named, has until his enlistment is up in November to decide if he will swear the oath required in the Defense Department's Form 4, a part of compliance with Title 10 USC 502.

The airman crossed through the last four words on the form. It reads: "I, [insert name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Previously those who did not wish to use those words could opt out, but a 2013 rules change now makes it a requirement. It can only be amended by an act of Congress.

The airman has the support of the American Humanist Association, which wrote to the Air Force to suggest that he be allowed to swear a secular oath.

If the airman isn't allowed to re-enlist, the group says it plans to sue.

The AHA's Sept. 2 letter to the military was posted by The Christian Post.

"Requiring (him) to take an oath containing this religious affirmation violates his clearly established constitutional rights under the First Amendment," the AHA wrote to his commanding officers.

The airman is serving at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, according to the Air Force Times.

"The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being," AHA attorney Monica Miller said. "Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or re-enlistment contracts."

The U.S. Air Force Academy made the phrase optional for its cadets last year, Fox News reported.


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An Atheist airman who was denied re-enlistment in late August has been given an ultimatum by the military: Take an oath that ends with the phrase "so help me God," or leave the service in November, the Air Force Times reports.
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2014-47-10
Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 03:47 PM
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