Air Force Academy may drop "so help me God" from honor oath
After Military Religious Freedom Foundation complaint
The Air Force Academy is considering removing the line "so help me God" from its honor oath; words part of the oath since the inception of the academy in 1956.
The Academy's review of the oath started when a watchdog group called Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained.
The honor oath is taken by all cadets when basic training is finished and says: "We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God."
"The people we are battling on this will say that nobody's forced to say, 'So help me God,'" said Chris Rodda, Senior Research Director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "That actually is not true."
Rodda says the foundation got a copy of an email sent by the academy on the subject that says: "The Oath of Office is governed by Congressional Oversight. The words in the Oath of Office MUST be said in order for your Commissioning to be legal."
MRFF says that requirement is unconstitutional.
"It's the part of the Constitution that's referred to as the 'no religious tests clause,'" said Rodda.
Air Force Academy spokesman Meade Warthen refused an on-camera interview, but confirmed by phone that the AFA is reviewing the honor oath.
"We want to be careful how we approach this subject," said Warthen. "We're in a state of flux at the moment."
Warthen would not confirm that cadets were required to pledge to God when taking the oath, and said he did not even want to look at the email MRFF said was sent by the Academy.
"I don't even want to see it," he said. "Wait until we send a statement out."
Academy graduate and Air Force veteran Marvin Jones Jr. says he doesn't see why a tradition should be changed.
"I don't agree with it," Jones said. "I think it's perfectly fine the way it is."
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