Constitution

U.S. Air Force Violates Constitution by Requiring Enlistees to Swear 'So Help Me God'

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Air Force Oath
U.S. Air Force

In a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force the secular humanist group the Center for Inquiry (CFI) cites the case of an atheist airman who was, allegedly, denied reenlistment because he refused to utter "So help me God" when affirming his oath to defend the Constitution. If that is the case, he stands on solid ground since the Constitution in Article 6 specifically states:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

The oath is specified by 10 U.S. Code Section 502:

(a) Enlistment Oath Each person enlisting in an armed force shall take the following oath:

"I, XXXXXXXXXX, 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."

Apparently, up until last October the Air Force had permitted its members to omit the phrase "So help me God" from its oath. The CFI acknowledges that the 10 U.S. Code Section 502 does not appear to make any part of the oath optional, but notes that the U.S. Army regulations state:

A commissioned officer of any Service will administer the Oath of Enlistment in DD Form 4 orally, in English, to each applicant. Make a suitable arrangement to ensure that the oath is administered in a dignified manner and in proper surroundings. Display the U.S. flag prominently near the officer giving the oath. The words "So help me God" may be omitted for persons who desire to affirm rather than to swear to the oath.

The Army clearly and correctly recognizes the primacy of the U.S. Constitution over statutory law. It is notable that the 1789 enlistment oath that remained in effect until 1962 eschewed any mention of a deity. The Army website tracing the history of the 1789 oath reports:

It came in two parts, the first of which read: "I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States." The second part read: "I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me."

Let's go back to that. If the Air Force is requiring its enlistees to swear to God, it is violating the Constitution that its members swear or affirm to defend.

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173 responses to “U.S. Air Force Violates Constitution by Requiring Enlistees to Swear 'So Help Me God'

  1. Thank God Ghu we have this important issue in the crosshairs!!!!

    Oy.

    1. SSPFTW: With respect, violating the Constitution is an important issue.

      1. Especially on Constitution Day!

      2. Indeed – and this is what you highlighted…

      3. Yeah, because the Air Force is making all these enlistees make this statement independently and they’re recording it and if its not all there, then the enlistee will have to be booted out of the Air Force.

        Oh, they’re saying it all together in a group and no one could possibly be able to tell if Jimmy didn’t finish that last part, and they really would never throw someone out for missing some words in the oath. Well then perhaps you doth protest too much.

        1. Uhm, you must have missed the previous story – the one where they *did* kick a buy out (well, didn’t allow him to re-enlist) because he wouldn’t say ‘so help me God’.

          The oath of enlistment is typically only said *in mass* the first time around, when you’re being processed in at MEPS. Because people’s enlistments expire at different times, from then on its often done singly or in small (2- people) groups).

          And it is a big deal – we like to think that giving your word is a big deal and that these oaths *mean* something. Start by saying that you can fudge through the ‘so help me god’ part and ho much further is it to fudging your way through the whole thing.

          Plus, its indicative of a problem the AF (and Army) have with religious freedom in general. This stuff isn’t just limited to part of the oath of enlistment.

          Thankfully the Navy (and to a large extent the Marine Corps) don’t have this problem. I’ve always been able to substitute an affirmation for an oath when enlisting.

    2. Christian Dominionists are engaged in a long-term campaign to subvert the Air Force, almost certainly with an eye towards toppling the secular Constitutionalist government.

      It’s a more important issue than this one airman’s concern.

      1. Hmmm, I work in the HQ and haven’t seen any of this. Gotta source for that claim?

  2. #firstworldarmyproblems

    #microaggression

    1. Great to see IM, Swiss and other resident conservatives chime in to dismiss Reason taking note of this. They want us to stick to the important stuff, like what some commenter on an Amanda Marcotte blog posting said!

      1. SOKHANZ!

  3. “Constitutional Crisis” or “Air Force Spared Dealing With Pain-in-the-Ass Publicity Hound Recruit”?

    You decide.

  4. This was so stupid. It clearly said in the AFI that the person didn’t have to say “so help me God,” and then last October someone placed a caveat on a blank paper into the database with the new provision.

    http://static.e-publishing.af……6-2606.pdf

    Technically speaking, they didn’t even modify the actual AFI document and produce an official updated version, they just tacked on a statement saying the particular paragraph was cancelled and the new enlistees had to swear to God.

    The Air Force is in deep shit on this one, and if General Welsh has any brains, he’ll eliminate that provision post-haste and fire whoever approved it.

    1. RRR: Could not agree more.

    2. This. Some brainless, zero common sense, order following idiot. Doesn’t say we can, so we can’t.

      This, is the Air Force I despise.

      1. I remember hearing from a USAF pilot a few years back the difference between Navy and AF training doctrine. The Navy gave their pilots instruction on everything they couldn’t do, and everything else was permissible. The Air Force instructs their pilots on all of the things they’re allowed to do, and everything else is forbidden. When asked why, he answered, “The Navy way makes better pilots, the Air Force way makes better officers.” Right.

        1. The AF, most certainly doesn’t make better officers. AF officers are the most risk adverse, careerist, puissies on the face of the planet.

              1. I’m sure you’re the exception Steve.

                Here’s how you can tell. If you make 0-6, you’re NOT the exception.

                1. I’ll let you know in Feb/Mar…but at this rate I’m seriously considering turning it down. I struggle to find a single positive trend to look forward to

                  1. When I left, getting up and going to work was drudgery. I HATED what it had become. Hard to believe things could change so much for the worse in 20 years.

                    What do you do? If you don’t mind me asking.

                    1. Maintenance, working up in the HAF right now as deputy div chief in the A4 weapon system division. (Obviously in between hot taskers right now 🙂
                      The idea that I could actually get back out to the field again to run a mx group with actual Airmen is the only thing I’m hanging onto while awaiting board results. Otherwise I’m out ’cause watching the sausage being made up here is equal parts scary and demotivating.

        2. But, yes, in general, that’s correct. Except the part about the Navy making better pilots.

      2. What kills me is that it’s so damn lazy. Whoever put this in there couldn’t even be bothered to modify the language in the actual AFI–they just put that notice at the beginning and presto, people think that it’s suddenly required to swear to God.

        Quite frankly, if I’m the Airman looking to re-enlist, I’d not only bring up the Constitutional implications, I’d blow up this bureaucratic bit of stupidity by its own rules-following petard and have my lawyer argue that since the language in the actual AFI was never actually inserted and the date on the entire AFI updated, then the Air Force and its commanders are in no position to enforce it. Not sure if that would fly since I’m not familiar with the policies behind updating these things, but complex bureaucracies can get hung quite easily by passing ultimately contradictory rules.

        1. It’s an official amendment to the instruction. This is done all the time. It’s done so that those who keep paper copies of their regs don’t have to print the entire thing out again every time there is a minor change. You simply add the amendment. Saves paper/money. When there are enough amendments they redo the whole thing.

    3. So it was not official policy of the AF to make the change – some admin rubbish?

      CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS AVERTED!!!

      (p.s. RRR – that was darned good work on your part)

      1. Sure was. It was in the AFI.

        OPR: AFPC/DPSOAE

        1. Part of me wonders if this was just some tasker that a chaplain or a zealot convinced someone at AFPC to send up for approval, and it got skimmed and pencil-whipped by someone on the A-staff rather than the Commander.

          1. 90% of the shit in AFIs is some mid-level managment person’s pet. The Generals signing off on the reg don’t have the time to read the whole thing and wouldn’t understand all the implications anyway.

            Uptight, risk adverse, blind rule following assholes write AF regs and Generals blindly sign off on them. No questions asked.

          2. I recall listening in on a teleconference/webinar a few years back after the Academy religious “scandal”. I remember being dumbfounded when it seemed the basic takeaway was that we needed to give more opportunities for religious practice (more variety in denom’s, services, etc). They totally didn’t get it. The “scandal” broke because there were so many ‘opportunities’ already it was bordering on oppressive to the non-religious.

            1. Unless you’re being forced to employ one of those “opportunities” how are you being oppressed?

              1. The example I recall was from basic training. You had the option of attending daily chapel services. If you chose not to that meant you stayed in the dorm and were subject to the cadre who would jack you up and essentially haze you since you were fair game. The natural result: everyone went to chapel services.

                1. That’s fucked up.

  5. I’m [an] atheist and I don’t have the slightest problem with this. But I’m a bit confused about identifying myself properly. I prefer “I’m atheist” over an “I’m an atheist”, the latter phrasing implies that hold a belief when it’s just the opposite.

    1. Re: widget,

      I prefer “I’m atheist” over an “I’m an atheist”

      I’m Spartacus!

      1. “I am a Spartacus” doesn’t ring the ears well.

        1. How about “I am THE Spartacus!”?

          1. We are Borg.

    2. Made me laugh. Atheism is a belief system. Science neither proves nor disproves the existence of God. In case you hadn’t been keeping up with the science news. Astrophysicists had to invent dark mater and dark energy (neither or which can be proved) to explain the current state of the universe. So it’s trust me from the science community. Another hint. According to the National Academy of Sciences, 40% of all scientific studies are falsified. If that’s not faith please tell me what is?

  6. “So say we all!”

    Everybody: “SO SAY WE ALL!”

    “Uh, admiral Adama, I have a bunch of people from the Colonial Committee Against Religious Proclamations and they want to have a word with you.”

  7. Why should an atheist care what god you make him swear to? It’s not like atheism is a religio…. nvm.

    1. IH: So you want an atheist to lie when he makes an affirmation? A bit contradictory don’t you think?

      1. How is that a lie? You’re not affirming a belief in God, you’re appealing to what you see as a non-existent entity to help you keep to the terms of your oath.

        It’s ineffective if you don’t believe in God, but no more or less of a lie than saying “so help me Fred”, even if you don’t believe in Fred’s existence or are agnostic on the subject.

        1. By IM logic devout Chriistians should be fine with saying ‘so help me Allah’ since they don’t think Allah exists.

          1. Sure. “Allah” is just the Arabic word for God, after all. Some Christians think that Muslim Allah is a creation of Satan; that might be a tad different situation for them but for myself I don’t particularly care.

            1. I think the owners of Hobby Lobby are wrong about certain BC being abortifacients, but that doesn’t stop my standing with their fight to not be compelled to be connected with access to them. Likewise, though you might be fine with swearing to Allah I hope you’re honest enough to admit many Christians would rather die. Now expand your mind to the idea that an atheist could have similar beliefs and principles about swearing to God.

              1. Reading comprehension is your friend.

                What I was responding to was the idea that swearing an oath to what one perceives as a non-existent being is dishonest. Whatever else it is (blasphemous, offensive, etc.), it’s not a lie. Since I already stated my opposition to this policy change, I don’t know what in my actual comments you are disputing.

                Oh right. You’re just in it to argue against points no one has actually made. My bad.

                1. No no, he’s here to ferret out all the SoCon Republicans in libertarian clothing.

          2. By IM logic devout Chriistians should be fine with saying ‘so help me Allah’ since they don’t think Allah exists.

            You might want to clue in every Christian in a Arab-speaking country. Apparently they’ve been praying to something they don’t believe exists for a couple thousand years.

      2. of course, this whole thing has stupid all over it.

      3. Not at all, Ron. Saying grace before a meal is recognition of the proper perspective of what’s before you.

        1. “Thanks for the food….yea God!”

          “Good bread, good meat, good God lets eat!”

          – a pair of very short graces for non-denominational use

          1. There’s a tad of poetry involved in saying grace.

            Bless us Oh Lord and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive…

            Let me Tweet that.

        2. How about thanks to the kid who stocked the shelves, the trucker who got the stuff to the store, the farmer who grew it and most of all, to the fine turkey now sitting on my plate for giving up everything for me.

          1. That’s reductio ad absurdum, but I’ll defer to ProL on the Latin. Why do farmers say grace?

            1. Because they are one bad crop season away from financial ruin?

      4. But are you really lying.

        If an Atheist says the words “So help me God” then due to their beliefs they are basically saying they don’t think they’re going to get any help.

      5. But are you really lying.

        If an Atheist says the words “So help me God” then due to their beliefs they are basically saying they don’t think they’re going to get any help.

    2. Well, it is stupid on both sides. As is correctly noted, this is a recent policy change with no reason behind it; the previous policy of having “so help me God” as part of the traditional oath but allowing substitutions for conscience worked just fine. The recent change was unnecessary.

      OTOH, if the oath had been changed to “may the Keebler elves protect us”, I would have no problem with it. I would laugh and think it was stupid, but ultimately I don’t believe the Keebler elves have any binding authority over me, and there’s no reason to make a big deal about it. Isn’t that the same level that atheists hold God at?

      1. allegedly.

        1. Except when I say “God damn you”.

      2. My guess is that the recruit wants 15 minutes of fame and making a fuss like this is his his one chance of getting it.

        That said, it was just stupid to tack on the phrase in the first place. Whoever did that obviously has not enough to do to justify continued employment.

        1. My guess is that the recruit wants 15 minutes of fame and making a fuss like this is his his one chance of getting it.

          That or he’s principled.

          1. Eh, pick your battles I guess. I’m atheist and I could give 2 shits about the tail end of the oath. I wouldn’t say I lack principle as a result.
            Seems like this kid is the more militant atheists that other atheists as well as believers consider a PITA.

            1. I always try to put the shoe on the other foot.

              Anybody have any objection to changing the last line to so help me Satan?

              The way they were doing it was fine.

              1. Oh, I hear you. I just think there’s some nuance to it. If I grew up in a satanic household in a country with a strong satanic tradition and population majority, I’d be in the same boat just muttering “so help me satan” out of tradition since that would be the equivalent context of your suggestion. I don’t think it’s right and they should change it. I also think this kid (and who ever was administering the oath and signing his form) needed to just roll with it and then submit a damn IDEA out of it. He did not have to martyr himself on this.

                1. Meh. I’m kinda proud of him. The biggest problem the AF has is everyone just rolls with it. Bullshit or not. Risk averse group-think. Never stir the pot = burned shit at the bottom.

      3. So since they don’t believe in gods, it’s ok to require them to take religious oaths? That makes zero sense.

        1. Ah, no. As I stated, it’s a stupid policy that is unnecessary — but also a trivial one from the legitimately atheist point of view.

          The policy should be changed but is rather unimportant.

      4. is correctly noted, this is a recent policy change with no reason behind it

        I’m not so sure. If you’ve been following it, there’s been an ongoing problem specifically in the Air Force involving officers using the service to evangelizing Christianity.

      5. No, some atheists are offended by the concept of God just as some theists are offended by the concept of deities they don’t believe in

        1. You don’t have a right to not be offended.

          *For the record, theists being offended by the concept of other deities is massively retarded.

          1. It’s not the concept of other deities that offends, it’s the expectation I am some how obligated to play along when you talk to your imaginary friend.

            1. Fair enough. (It would be nice if more people clarrified it like that because the way most people talk, it’s the concept and not the obligated play along that offends.)

              1. It’s always the obligations and special treatment by government that offends.

  8. “I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me.”

    The first part is contradicted by the second part. Swearing true allegiance to the United States of America (the territory and the people) means you would not observe the orders of a single person, no matter the title. That is why Nazis and Communists swear their allegiance to their fearless leader.

    1. That’s the pleb enlisted swine version. The officer’s oath has no mention of loyalty to the President, etc. last I checked.

      1. It’s also the 1789 version. The current version is a little bit more limited:

        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.

    2. The United States of America is not the people or the territory. It says it right there in the name, States.

  9. More anti-religionists giving atheists a bad name.

    As an atheist I would have no problem with the oath. You want me to swear to your god? Sure. Why not? I accept that you believe your god exists and has magical powers, I just don’t share in that belief. If it makes you feel better for me to swear to your invisible friend, then I will. I wouldn’t swear the oath if I didn’t plan to follow it, so what does it matter who or what I swear it to?

    1. I agree that it isn’t a big deal. But Bailey is right about the letter of the law. The Constitution says “no religious test”. I think that means you can’t expect people to swear to God.

      It is not even an atheist issue. Some religions consider it a sin to swear and oath to God. I don’t see how this is legal.

      1. Exactly why the option “or affirm” is present, since Quakers were (are?) prohibited from swearing an oath, but of course may affirm that they will carry out an action.

    2. If it doesn’t matter, then why not swear to Shiva or Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

      1. Who says they’re not? Is there a footnote attached to the written version of the oath that clearly states it is the Christian God?

        The word “God” has myriad meanings to myriad people. And to some it is just a meaningless word tacked onto the end of a sentence. Shouldn’t each person be able to treat it as they see fit? Or is the better solution to banish it from the lexicon of military inductees…even though it will be the last free word they utter until the end of their enlistment period.

        1. But it isn’t any just any God, as is clear from the historical context of the oath as commonly used. That’s like saying swearing on a Bible could just mean any old book.

          I don’t really care that much, but to pretend that they are being directed to swear to some amorphous choose-your-own-adventure Divine Being is just silly.

          1. Bullshit. We’ve had people swear oaths on many varied religious texts and irreligious ones for offices in America. From the Koran to the Talmud to Hindu texts to not using bibles at all.

            And if you’re gonna use the “traditional religion” argument, explain how John Quincy Adams got by with using a law book to swear his oath on. Or how Theodore Roosevelt did not use any bible at all.

        2. Who says they’re not? Is there a footnote attached to the written version of the oath that clearly states it is the Christian God?

          Doesn’t matter. This is about as clear a case of separation of church and state as you could ask for. Yes, service is voluntary, but the bottom line is that the Constitution forbids a religious test, and arguing that “ITS JUST WORDS, YOU CRYBABIES!” is disingenuous.

          1. What test? Are people of certain faiths excluded from joining the Air Force? Please show me where that’s happening.

            1. What test? Are people of certain faiths excluded from joining the Air Force? Please show me where that’s happening.

              If you’re going to argue like a passive-aggressive douchebag, at least show a basic understanding of the case.

              1. I,take,it,by your evasion that no such test and no such exclusion from service exists.

                And how the fuck am I being passive-aggressive? Because I want to know how there is a true religious test to enter service…or because we both know there isn’t really one and this is an exercise in arm-twisting to get what certain Pete want, which is the complete omission of any religious references in our government?

                1. I,take,it,by your evasion that no such test and no such exclusion from service exists.

                  Talk about projection. You do realize the case is about an atheist, right?

                  And how the fuck am I being passive-aggressive?

                  By deliberately ignoring the basic facts of the case and the language of the AFI, so you can make a non-existent point.

                  Because I want to know how there is a true religious test to enter service

                  If an atheist won’t be allowed to reenlist if he or she doesn’t say, “so help me, God” then that’s a religious test. You’re just too damn stubborn to admit it.

                  or because we both know there isn’t really one and this is an exercise in arm-twisting to get what certain Pete want, which is the complete omission of any religious references in our government?

                  Sounds like you’ve got bigger issues here than the simple reenlistment oath. If “so help me God” doesn’t mean anything, than “I solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States” doesn’t mean jack shit either, and we can dispense with the need for an 89-page reenlistment instruction.

                  1. Does the 89 page document go into how they must pass a religious test? Please show me where.

                    More likely, the 89 pages spell out the actionable terms of the re enlistment. You know, the part than doesn’t have to do with God.

                    Besides, the original oath still holds true. So the reenlist mentality does nothing to alter the terms of service. On the other hand, the 89 written pages of terms do.

                    1. The dude was NOT ALLOWED TO BE IN THE AIR FORCE without swearing to God.

                    2. Does the 89 page document go into how they must pass a religious test?

                      Like I said, passive-aggressive. The document was linked above, but since you seem incapable of clicking on it, I’ll post the relevant section.

                      Administrative Changes to AFI36-2606,
                      Reenlistment In The United States Air Force,
                      9 MAY 2011
                      OPR: AFPC/DPSOAE
                      Paragraph 5.6.
                      Active Duty Oath of Enlistment — CANCELLED
                      Reference to Paragraph 5.6.
                      Active Duty Oath of Enlistment MUST READ:
                      “All Airmen enlisting or reenlisting must take the following oath: I, (State your full name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United St ates 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.
                      30 October 2013

                      More likely, the 89 pages spell out the actionable terms of the re enlistment. You know, the part than doesn’t have to do with God.

                      Which is beside the point, since the very first page states that the person reenlisting has to swear to God.

          2. I don’t know how they get away with having military Chaplains? Only a matter of time on that one.

            1. BURN THEM AT THE STAKE! How dare they minister to soldiers that voluntarily seek them out.

              1. How dare they minister to soldiers that voluntarily seek them out.

                Pretty sure you can be “voluntold” on that one for various “morale” reasons. Of course, you can still pick which chaplain you must see.

                1. I doubt you can be voluntold to go to a chaplain. However you can be to a psychologist.

                  Also, there’s a strong push for atheist and humanist chaplains to be allowed. And as far as I’ve read,there is little to no pushback.

                2. Not being religious, I have to admit that the chaplains were almost the only zeroes that you could have an interesting conversation with.

              2. I don’t personally have any problem with them. I believe 1A is freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

                But the latter is how it is being interpreted…no religion in any government funded program. And here you have a person being paid by the federal government to provide religion to other federal employees.

                Given the current interpretation/case-law, there is no way military Chaplains can be justified. I don’t agree with it, but, their days are numbered.

      2. Gozer: [after Ray orders her to re-locate] Are you a God?
        [Ray looks at Peter, who nods]
        Dr Ray Stantz: No.
        Gozer: Then… DIE!
        [Lightning flies from her fingers, driving the Ghostbusters to the edge of the roof and almost off; people below scream]
        Winston Zeddemore: Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god, you say “YES”!
        Dr. Peter Venkman: All right! This chick is TOAST!

  10. Let’s go back to that. If the Air Force is requiring its enlistees to swear to God, it is violating the Constitution that its members swear or affirm to defend.

    First off,there’s a big difference in swearing allegiance to God (which God in this particular instance has not been identified or explicitly stated by the Air Force by the way) and saying “so help me God”.

    Also, we have a VOLUNTARY military. Had this been done to a conscript,,you may have a constitutional point. But since it’s being “done” to a volunteer, I don’t believe there should be an issue here.

    Also, is he being forced to “swear to God”, or he is being forced to say a sentence? Because I’m pretty sure some other time during his enlistment period he’ll most likely be forced to recite some other words he may not necessarily believe or agree with.

    1. You do love the Virgin Mary, don’t you, Private Joker?!

      1. Private Joker is silly and he is ignorant but he has got guts and that’s enough.

    2. It’s a rhetorical device used to emphasize a solemn commitment to the oath just sworn.

      Like saying “with every fiber of my being” or what have you.

      1. I disagree. It’s nothing more than a collection of words that the respondent may place any amount of reverence or emphasis on at his or her own discretion.

        1. sva: “but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Doesn’t it seem reasonable that “God” in the AF oath implies something or other about religion? Just saying.

          1. Where is the religious test, Ron? Is the person being excluded because of his religious beliefs, or lack thereof?

            Please,show me where, as a qualification to serve in the Air Force, this man must state a particular religion or practice it.

            1. sva: If saying “So help me God” does not mean anything special to a believer then perhaps you’re right, otherwise I think you’re wrong.

              And if it means nothing special to believers, they should obviously be perfectly happy to omit it, right?

              As an aside I have noted elsewhere:

              Eighteenth century liberal British philosopher John Locke is thought to have jumpstarted the notion of the separation of church and state in his A Letter Concerning Toleration. However, even Locke believed that atheists were not to be tolerated. Why? “Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist,” he wrote.

              1. Well you did a good job of evading my question.

              2. Eighteenth century liberal British philosopher John Locke

                17th century

            2. Is the person being excluded because of his religious beliefs, or lack thereof?

              If he’s being excluded because he won’t swear on a divine being due to his lack of religious belief, then yes.

              Please,show me where, as a qualification to serve in the Air Force, this man must state a particular religion or practice it.

              This is hair-splitting. The language of the AFI as it stands now is quite plain about the need to swear to God to be allowed to reenlist. Doesn’t matter which God, and that’s the point–it’s meant to exclude people who don’t believe in God and think these oaths actually mean something.

              If the oath is just words and doesn’t mean anything, then there’s no reason to have an oath to defend the Constitution in the first place. If it does mean something, then there’s no reason to require someone to say, “so help me God” to reenlist.

              1. Is this verbal,contract,binding in any way? Will he be court-martialed if it turns out that he doesn’t believe in the God (which God again? Because there’s no mention to any specific religion) to which he swore.

                Or are the written terms of his contract (The UCMJ) what will be enforced?

                If it’s the latter,this is in no way a religious “test”.

                1. I love how you’re putting up all these caveats on your argument and evading the actual text of the AFI itself on what must be said during the reenlistment ceremony in order for it to be considered valid. It tells me that you don’t have a leg to stand on and are just making shit up as you go along.

                2. Jesus. The man will not be allowed into a public office without passing the test that he “swear to God.” How the fuck is that not a religious test for office? It doesn’t matter whether he fakes it or not, what his true beliefs are or not. It’s plainly a religious test, because it is a religious barrier to the office. Fuck.

    3. Screw this god stuff – when’s the next hipster cosmotarian cocktail hour?

  11. Just shut up and do as you’re told, you fucking atheists. It isn’t like this is another in a long line of incidents indicating that there is an evangelical cabal in the Air Force Academy.

    1. The military has trapped in a horrible vice of born agains and radical feminists. I am not kidding. The feminists and the born agains share a common goal of creating the United States Warrior Monk. They want anyone serving in the military to be a completely asexual, teetotaler. The only difference is that the feminists are okay with sex as long as it is of the homosexual variety and the born agains are only okay with sex for the purpose of having children. Otherwise they are pretty copacetic and doing an excellent job of ensuring no one associated with the military ever enjoys themselves for even a moment.

      1. When did they stop putting cigarettes in the rations?

        1. #thanks Obama

        2. A long time ago. They also have banned even soft core porn from base PX’s. At one point they were trying to ban it from the barracks. Seriously, they thought it was a good idea to tell a bunch of 18 to 20 year old males they couldn’t have porn on their personal computers.

          And of course they have ensured that any sort of alcohol infraction ends the person’s career, regardless of their overall competence in their job. Seeing a hooker is now “promoting human trafficking” and a career ender. The feminists and the born agains really do agree on about every subject sans the value of ass sex.

          1. I would imagine alcohol in the PX is next. And there was a general ban on alcohol while deployed in Muslim countries, right? Or were they just supposed to keep it on the down low?

            1. It is a general ban on booze and porn. No shit, porn too.

              And I doubt they will get rid of alcohol in the PX. They make too much money off of that. PX’s are fabulous places to buy cheap booze. No state taxes to pay.

              1. Banning porn couldn’t possibly have any negative repercussions in the future. I’m sure we won’t hear any stories about rape culture in the military.

              2. Not get rid of but already restricting

                http://www.armytimes.com/artic…..ions-posts

                Regarding GO #1, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s extended to future combat zones “because we can’t have drunks in such an environment” and “mixed sexes in closes quarters…porn…harassment…” “besides it worked well in the last three wars”.

          2. This. There are a lot of ways you can screw up and still keep your rank (or at least not get kicked out), but anything involving “the bottle or the zipper” is pretty much grounds for discharge. Shit, that’s why none of the base clubs anywhere are fun anymore.

            1. I remember doing joint exercises with the Air Force (we were a Marine Air Traffic Control squadron) and all the AF guys were amazed that losing a stripe or two in the Marines was not a career ender.

              It was sort of expected that a normal red blooded Marine would at some point do something to lose a stripe.

      2. Exactly right.

    2. Takes notes on date and time, prays for SugarFree begins to comb obituaries for mysterious deaths involving auto-erotic asphyxiation.

    3. some cadets must pretend to be evangelical Christians in order to maintain standing among their peers and superiors

      So, in other words, getting them ready for life? I know too many folks who basically go thru the motions of religion since society/family expects it of them while confidentially thinking it’s a load of crock.

      1. I think this happened to my dad. When he and my mom moved to Arkansas he realized that his life would suck if he didn’t go to the local Baptist church and Bible study. He says he converted, and he’s never let on that he doesn’t really believe, but I know him (he’s my dad) so my suspicions are strong that he’s pretty much faking it.

    4. Eh, I call conspiracy theory on this one. Granted it’s been 20 yrs since I graduated so can’t say if it’s gone full retard, but ‘back in my day’ the place was completely manageable as an atheist. Sometimes the expectations would seem a bit excessive, but I certainly did not feel like I had to join an underground group of non-believers to escape some evangelical pressure. No one even so much as asked me to go to church with them. Gotta remember the institution is attempting to build character, integrity, honor, etc and it’s only natural that a lot folks equate that with religion…since everyone knows religion has the market cornered on morals (/sarc).

      1. In our sister squadron at Ellsworth, when I was a young Captain, it was pretty obvious that those that attended church with the CC were getting all the good deals. They came to be known as “the god squad” around base. It definitely happens.

        1. Yep, there’s all forms of that. Some places just substitute religion with single malt scotch and cigars and those who do it w/ the boss are the cool kids. Seen that on multiple tours.

  12. Oaths in of themselves are irrational. They are archaic formalities that rest on the assumption that spoken words have some sacred meaning when you place them in a particular order. For some reason atheists chafe at being involved in anything remotely religious but not at being forced to engage in antiquated social customs.

    1. GMSM: Maybe so, but one goal is to make sure that the person taking an oath or making an affirmation understands what they are promising to do.

      1. Yes, but it’s still a social custom that emphasizes the sacredness of military culture and the concept of honor.

        I’ve never sworn an oath before paying the check at dinner or leasing a new car because those things are done via written contract and it is what’s written and signed that is legally enforceable.

        The military also requires you sign a contract and that’s what they use against you at court martial, not the oath.

        So again, not a religious test, just a bit of formality and tradition. If they can force you to say it they can use the G-word

        1. Here’s how you can know this is not the case: change it to ‘as there is no God in heaven I do swear’ and turn down your radios for the conservative Christian ire there that would follow.

        2. So again, not a religious test, just a bit of formality and tradition.

          Sorry, but this is bullshit. If it was just a “bit of formality,” the Air Force wouldn’t have an 89-page instruction going into detail on reenlistments. It would be about 3 pages, say the equivalent of “the commander recites a reenlistment oath with the content at their discretion,” and that would be it.

          It’s enforcing a declaration of religious belief as requirement to reenlist. Read the AFI. I realize this sort of thing blows people’s minds, but that’s the plain truth of it.

          1. Ever stop,to,think that what’s included in those 89 pages is the formal part and this ceremony is the informal part?

            So where in those 89 pages are the portions of a religious test than a candidate for re enlistment must adhere to? Please link them.

            1. Ever stop,to,think that what’s included in those 89 pages is the formal part and this ceremony is the informal part?

              Ever stop to think that you’re just making shit up?

              So where in those 89 pages are the portions of a religious test than a candidate for re enlistment must adhere to? Please link them

              I linked it up above in my very first post on the subject, you moron.

    2. It’s a verbal contract. I have no problem with it. Kinda insures the participant knows what they are getting into.

    3. Actually, historically the oath takes this form because in Mediterranean religions the vow invoked the punishment of the deity if you broke the vow.

      “So help me God” doesn’t mean “Gosh I hope God helps me fulfill this oath” as a person above hypothesized. It means “If I don’t keep this oath, please burn my fucking ass, God”.

      The reason an atheist should not take the oath in this form is because he is entering into a contract with an entity he does not think exists. It’s a per se fraud. If I swear an oath invoking a deity and I don’t believe in the deity, I am committing fraud on the person relying on my oath.

    4. Nope, I think that all oaths and pledges are bullshit and refuse them when I can.

      1. Ok, I wasn’t being broad in my definition of oaths and pledges. I think making promises and keeping them is fine. I’m talking about standardized required oaths and pledges being recited by people who don’t really care about them and just want this part to be over.

  13. The latest in a long line of unconstitutional wars being waged.

    A senator trying to pass a law that says an NFL team must change their name of the NFL will lose their tax status.

    A Congress that has abdicated their responsibility to pass laws by allowing executive departmental policies to hold the weight of a legislative act.

    A judiciary that permits the aforementioned departmental overreach.

    A series of attacks on the plainly written second amendment.

    A persistent attack on the fourth amendment in the name of “fighting terrorism” “fighting drugs” and “national security”.

    Blatant disregard for equal protection by the IRS.

    And Bailey picks this cross to climb up on in protest of constitutional violations because a volunteer refuses to say a few words he may not agree with. What, did a bunch of millennials say this oath was important or something?

    1. Meh, this is okay. It’s a fun story that ultimately everyone can agree on.

    2. All those examples are OK because the congressmen, cops and judges all added “So help me God” to their oaths.

      That means that while you may not be able to divine the truth behind their actions, it is all constitutional. Sort of like papal infallibility.

    3. To be fair, this is a violation that Bailey stands a better than average chance of getting changed.

      1. Yeah, so,let’s fight this easy fight where there’s really no winner rather than try to reaffirm our divine, or natural,rights to free speech, self-defense, privacy, due process and equal protection under the law.

        Because it’s more important that this guy not say four words than he doesn’t feel like saying before voluntarily joining the Air Force.

        1. You can do both. Not a zero sum. Liberty is a virus. Get it rolling and it spreads and grows. People find they like it and want more of it.

          Just my .02

    4. sva: I will have you know that I climb up on a lot of Constitutional crosses, see my arguments about the power to declare war, and freedom of speech.

      1. You stay up on that cross long enough and people will be saying ‘so help me Bailey’ soon.

      2. Hey, I’m just glad you jump on into the comments and mix it up. Makes the whole experience a little more “interactive” and enjoyable. You and ENB deserve bonuses.

    5. And Bailey picks this cross to climb up on

      So what? Does doing so prevent him and other Reason contributors from speaking up about other issues?

      This is one of the arguments the yokeltarians pull out whenever Reason talks about government overreach that they support but can’t justify. I don’t think that’s what you’re doing here, but it’s a bogus argument regardless of intent.

      1. Meh.

        I think the oath is bullshit. But I also think it’s utterly picayune bullshit, and that Bailey is an asshole making mountains out of molehills.

  14. When I enlisted in the Marines, the recruiter asked me my religion and I said none. He asked me if I had ever been baptized and I said yes as a Catholic. That was the end of it I thought. When I took the oath, I just omitted the god part.

    When I got to boot camp, I discovered that I had been listed as a Catholic on my records. It actually turned out OK because it was around Easter and the Catholics got to fall out for all sorts of silly feasts and what not.

    When I got to the fleet I was able to get my religion changed to “none” easily and without any hassle.

  15. The founders wanted to keep churches and the state separate. People of the Federalist ilk wanted to implement taxes, within jurisdictions, to support the pre-dominant church/religion with the jurisdiction. Anti-federalists were against this concept. That is the foundation of the separation of church and state.

    ***Of course, all that is required now is to not officially call yourself a church and you can infiltrate the State and use collective money to support whatever advanced belief you want to inflict on others by Force***

    So there necessarily was never a separation of God and State, just the desire to keep the endless roil of different denominations from gaining access to the public’s treasury. The separation was/is temporal and mortal to prevent the power hungry to rule over those with a differing method of adoring God.

    As one who doesn’t believe in ghosts or Faeries, I’d prefer that God not be tacked on, but I’m so iconoclastic that the whole process of oathing is silly in the first place.

  16. It’s great fun to see many of the conservative friendly commenters here dismiss this. I imagine if the topic were the Obama administration requiring conservative Christians to make an affirmation that they feels violates their conscience or lose a government benefit or position they’d be singing a different tune in a loud chorus.

    1. I hate agreeing with you.

      What if the oath said so help me Satan?

      1. I’d just say God anyways?

        Of course if some dipshit hadn’t tacked on the “Have to say it” thing, this would be a non-issue.

  17. I’m agnostic and I don’t give a crap whether other atheists/agnostics would mind swearing to a god. Your FEELZ (or lack thereof, as it were) on the matter don’t change its constitutionality.

  18. I propose, if the oath is meaningless and what not, that we replace ‘God’ with some epic pagan god of war. I suggest Odin, The Furious One.

    And you guys think you have it bad, I’m planning to join the military in the new year and I’ll have to swear an oath to the goddamn Queen and her successors.

    1. Jesus promised and end to evil. Thor promised an end to frost giants.

      I haven’t seen a Frost Giant in a long time.

      Thor 1 – Jesus 0

  19. Forget God – are the still going to wear scarves? because that’s got to be against something in the Constitution somewhere. Like, “Our flying people shall not be demeaned and humiliated and forced to wear silly neckwear” or something.

    1. Mormons can wear their magic underwear, can I wear my colander?

  20. U.S. Air Force Violates Constitution

    Well, yeah. Gotta keep up with every other part of the government.

  21. I’m in favor of it. Maybe they really will ask themselves “who would Jesus bomb?”, and stop the next stupid war before it starts.

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