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Thread: Atheist airman must swear 'so help me God' or get out in November

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    Atheist airman must swear 'so help me God' or get out in November

    An atheist airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada has until November to change his mind and swear a reenlistment oath to God, the Air Force said.

    The unnamed airman was denied reenlistment Aug. 25 for refusing to take an oath that concludes with the phrase “so help me God,” the American Humanist Association said in a Sept. 2 letter to the inspectors general for the Air Force and Creech. In her letter, Monica Miller, an attorney with the AHA’s Apignani Humanist Legal Center, said the airman should be given the choice to reenlist by swearing a secular oath. She said the AHA will sue if the airman is not allowed to reenlist.

    In a Sept. 5 email, Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said the airman is still serving and will continue to do so for at least two more months.

    “The airman’s term of service expires in November 2014,” Richeson said. “He has until this time to complete the Department of Defense Form 4 in compliance with the Title 10 USC 502.”

    The four-page DD Form 4, which is titled “Enlistment/Reenlistment Document, Armed Forces of the United States,” contains a “confirmation of enlistment or reenlistment” oath that 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.”

    The AHA said the airman crossed out the last four words in that oath, and was told Aug. 25 that the Air Force would not accept it for that reason. The airman was told his only options were to sign the religious oath section of the contract without adjustment and recite an oath concluding with “so help me God,” or leave the Air Force, the AHA said.

    The AHA said that is unconstitutional and unacceptable and that Article VI of the Constitution prohibits requiring religious tests to hold an office or public trust.

    The Air Force used to allow airmen to omit the phrase “so help me God” if they so chose. But an Oct. 30, 2013, update to Air Force Instruction 36-2606, which spells out the active-duty oath of enlistment, dropped that option. Since that quiet update to the AFI, airmen have been required to swear an oath to a deity when they enlist or reenlist.

    The Air Force said last week that the change was made to bring its oath in line with the statutory requirement under Title 10 USC 502. The Air Force said it cannot change its AFI to make “so help me God” optional unless Congress changes the statute mandating the oath.

    Air Force Times is still awaiting more information from the Air Force on the change to the rule.
    http://www.airforcetimes.com/article...r?sf30886492=1

    Hopefully it isn't actually Congress that has to fix this. That sort of thing doesn't usually turn out too well. I'd like to see the statute that the Air Force is complying with, though. The ban on religious tests for public service in the Constitution is extremely specific.
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    He shouldnt have to, but if it were me Id swear on whatever God they wanted me to swear on. Ill humor pretty much any religious practice just because its easier that making a scene and I dont believe the deity exists anyway. But yeah, it seems silly to be required to swear on the Bible or God or whatever.




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    I usually think atheist rapid reaction force actions are little more than wasteful political theater, but this kind of crap has to end. All federal courts (and I imagine every state court) provides that a witness who makes an oath is allowed to "affirm" rather than solemnly swear, which has a religious connotation. In fact, the Constitution states explicitly that the President, upon taking the oath of office, can opt to affirm rather than swear. It should be good enough for the Air Force as well.
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    TheWalrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tylerdolphin View Post
    He shouldnt have to, but if it were me Id swear on whatever God they wanted me to swear on. Ill humor pretty much any religious practice just because its easier that making a scene and I dont believe the deity exists anyway. But yeah, it seems silly to be required to swear on the Bible or God or whatever.
    The unfortunate thing is that some people think you are making a scene by refusing, just like some people say they don't mind if people are gay as long as they don't "throw it in my face." It should not be an abnormal thing to refuse to say, and the reality is that the people who are trying to make you feel awkward are the ones who are actually making a big deal out it and somehow making you feel like you're the one doing it. It's quite a neat trick, actually.

    You shouldn't have to swear to things you don't think are true and you don't believe in. I know you agree with me on that... I'm just more of a militant asshole about it, whereas you are, uh... Bahamian.

    It takes me back to Catholic school, actually. The kids would get up to take communion and it would be just me and a girl from India left in the row. A few times I actually went up and took communion. One time I took the wafer and pretended to eat it and kept it in my hand. Then it fell out and some people noticed, which was, uh... embarrassing. Later on they invented the "priestly blessing", where you come up with your hands folded over your chest and the priest puts his hand on your head and says something like, "you are going to hell, sinner." But really it was so kids wouldn't have to stay in the row by themselves. Looking back I would have preferred to stay in the row by myself, preferably with some "deal with it" sunglasses on my face, if for no other reason than the fact that two consecutive bishops in the Palm Beach diocese -- each which gave me a blessing -- were later found to be child molesters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWalrus View Post
    http://www.airforcetimes.com/article...r?sf30886492=1

    Hopefully it isn't actually Congress that has to fix this. That sort of thing doesn't usually turn out too well. I'd like to see the statute that the Air Force is complying with, though. The ban on religious tests for public service in the Constitution is extremely specific.
    If the rule had always been that you had to take that specific oath, as written, then I would say this bozo needs to STFU. However, they changed the rules from an intelligent process to a stupid process. Hopefully, it won't take millions of taxpayer dollars and ridiculous media to correct the mistake. If he wants to omit the "...so help me God" then let him have at it. The last thing we need is another unemployed person. One caveat, there should be absolutely no difference in the execution of the oath nor should anyone omitting the religious portion be entitled to any extra or less protection should they break the oath.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWalrus View Post
    The unfortunate thing is that some people think you are making a scene by refusing, just like some people say they don't mind if people are gay as long as they don't "throw it in my face." It should not be an abnormal thing to refuse to say, and the reality is that the people who are trying to make you feel awkward are the ones who are actually making a big deal out it and somehow making you feel like you're the one doing it. It's quite a neat trick, actually.

    You shouldn't have to swear to things you don't think are true and you don't believe in. I know you agree with me on that... I'm just more of a militant asshole about it, whereas you are, uh... Bahamian.

    It takes me back to Catholic school, actually. The kids would get up to take communion and it would be just me and a girl from India left in the row. A few times I actually went up and took communion. One time I took the wafer and pretended to eat it and kept it in my hand. Then it fell out and some people noticed, which was, uh... embarrassing. Later on they invented the "priestly blessing", where you come up with your hands folded over your chest and the priest puts his hand on your head and says something like, "you are going to hell, sinner." But really it was so kids wouldn't have to stay in the row by themselves. Looking back I would have preferred to stay in the row by myself, preferably with some "deal with it" sunglasses on my face, if for no other reason than the fact that two consecutive bishops in the Palm Beach diocese -- each which gave me a blessing -- were later found to be child molesters.
    I guess I was just brought up my whole life in a place where religion and government mix frequently. Grade 1-12 in public school required a bible class every semester. We prayed, sang hymns, all that in public school. I cant remember the last public function Ive been to that didnt open in prayer. The Bahamas Christian Council runs the government to a shocking degree. The non-religious here are a huge minority. Much more so than the USA even. And its hard to believe, but there might be even more stigma attached to words like "atheist" or "agnostic" than in the USA. Its just always been easier to go with the flow.

    But, youre right. I dont believe in having to say things I dont believe to be true. It shouldnt be that way at all. But when youre an overwhelming minority and are going to be judged for it, C'est la vie. Im not proud to say it, but I dont have near enough inner fortitude to try fight the system.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheWalrus View Post
    The unfortunate thing is that some people think you are making a scene by refusing, just like some people say they don't mind if people are gay as long as they don't "throw it in my face." It should not be an abnormal thing to refuse to say, and the reality is that the people who are trying to make you feel awkward are the ones who are actually making a big deal out it and somehow making you feel like you're the one doing it. It's quite a neat trick, actually.

    You shouldn't have to swear to things you don't think are true and you don't believe in. I know you agree with me on that... I'm just more of a militant asshole about it, whereas you are, uh... Bahamian.

    It takes me back to Catholic school, actually. The kids would get up to take communion and it would be just me and a girl from India left in the row. A few times I actually went up and took communion. One time I took the wafer and pretended to eat it and kept it in my hand. Then it fell out and some people noticed, which was, uh... embarrassing. Later on they invented the "priestly blessing", where you come up with your hands folded over your chest and the priest puts his hand on your head and says something like, "you are going to hell, sinner." But really it was so kids wouldn't have to stay in the row by themselves. Looking back I would have preferred to stay in the row by myself, preferably with some "deal with it" sunglasses on my face, if for no other reason than the fact that two consecutive bishops in the Palm Beach diocese -- each which gave me a blessing -- were later found to be child molesters.
    My view is that it's usually the atheists that are making the scene by saying that the very presence of public displays of worship in governmental functions offends their delicate sensibilities. This situation is the reverse though, and it appears that religious people are intentionally trying to make a big stink out of this.
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    I agree that the changing of a traditional option also changes the playing field for the airman's reenlistment. It's disturbing because it flies against the Constitutional notion of separation of church and state as well as being a foreshadowing omen of the growing reach of the religious right's tentacles to shift that balance.

    So on an individual basis this individual should be grandfathered in without having to compromise his principles. On a more pragmatic basis, I agree with the 3rd world terrorist that if it means nothing to you, it's an empty oath that serves as a means to a desired end. As a spiritual Deist, that would apply to me also although I'd first make an effort for them to change it to "Supreme Being" or Grand Architect." However, now knowing what they do, I'd think the powers that be realizing the oath is meaningless to him, would even have trepidations over swearing him in fully aware that he's not pledging his loyalty predicated on something important to him.


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    Yeah, I'm not sure how his refusal to swear to "the invisible man in the sky" should justify risking his job. We all have to do **** we don't like. I fail to see the big deal (in THIS case) ... it's not going to hurt him in any way. He doesn't believe in god, so why should he care if he's mocking the oath by lying when taking it?

    Should he have to? No.

    Should he risk his career over it? **** no.

    IMO, the dude is just looking for attention.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bumpus View Post
    Yeah, I'm not sure how his refusal to swear to "the invisible man in the sky" should justify risking his job. We all have to do **** we don't like. I fail to see the big deal (in THIS case) ... it's not going to hurt him in any way. He doesn't believe in god, so why should he care if he's mocking the oath by lying when taking it?

    Should he have to? No.

    Should he risk his career over it? **** no.

    IMO, the dude is just looking for attention.
    He's swearing an oath. Being truthful when you're doing that is important to some people. Go figure.



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