Tech. Sgt. LaMarcus Molden, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Iraq personnel manager, recites the oath of enlistment along with 125 other service members during a re-enlistment ceremony at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Oct. 5, 2011.

Airman denied re-entry to Air Force for refusing to say 'so help me God'

Tech. Sgt. LaMarcus Molden, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Iraq personnel manager, recites the oath of enlistment along with 125 other service members during a re-enlistment ceremony at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq on Oct. 5, 2011.

Tech. Sgt. LaMarcus Molden, 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Iraq personnel manager, recites the oath of enlistment along with 125 other service members during a re-enlistment ceremony at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Oct. 5, 2011.

(RNS) The American Humanist Association said Thursday (Sept. 4) that an airman at Nevada's Creech Air Force Base who crossed out "so help me God" in the oath the Air Force requires servicemen and women to sign was told in August he must sign it as is or leave the Air Force.

The AHA's Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to the Air Force  on the airman's behalf demanding he be allowed to sign a secular version of the oath. The U.S. Constitution allows freedom of religious beliefs and prohibits religious tests for holding public office or public trust, the letter states.

The airman's name is being withheld by AHA.

"The Supreme Court has held on a number of occasions that it is unconstitutional to force anyone to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being," said Monica Miller, an attorney for AHA and author of the letter. "Numerous federal courts have specifically held that forcing an atheist to swear to God violates the Free Exercise Clause as well as the Establishment Clause."

But a spokeswoman for the Air Force told the Air Force Times the oath cannot be changed without an act of Congress.

"Reciting 'So help me God' in the re-enlistment and commissioning oaths is a statutory requirement," Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said.

According to Richeson, the oath requirement was changed in October 2013. Before then, an exception permitted airmen to omit the words "so help me God" if they had "personal reasons."

Miller said the AHA is prepared to sue the Air Force. "But given that the law is so well-settled on this issue, I would hope that litigation is not necessary," she said.

Last year, AHA represented an officer trainee at Maxwell Air Force Base who was compelled to agree to the same religious language. The matter was resolved "quickly in our favor after the Air Force realized they could not compel him to affirm the existence of a supreme being," Miller said.

The airman's case was brought to the attention of the AHA by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, which promotes the rights of nonbelievers in the military.

“This Airman shows integrity, commitment to the nation, and respect for religion in standing firm for a secular oath that reflects his true values and intentions,” said Jason Torpy, MAAF's president.

YS/AMB END WINSTON

Comments

  1. This is revolting and un-American. But considering it’s the USAF, not at all surprising.

  2. The Air Force is embarrassing itself. If it goes to court, they will have to let the airman re enlist.

  3. It’s time for the Defense Department and the courts to interfere and put a screeching halt to the madness of evangelical practices in the U.S. Air Force.

    There are numerous constitutional violations in that branch of our military. They are caused and promoted by the commanding officers. Those officers must be given dishonorable discharges for their continued, blatant, criminal conduct.

  4. We must never allow it to pass only as “not at all surprising.” Punishing and discharging action must be taken against the many officers who violate the Constitution and try to forcefully preach religion in the Air Force rather than perform their proper duties in legal ways. It has continued boldly in the Air Force. Those officers have thumbed their noses at our Constitution, human rights, and their proper duties for too many generations.

  5. Re-enlistment for those unconstitutionally, illegally, and improperly violated is not enough. The offending officers must be fired with a punishing reduction of benefits for their criminal behavior. They commit crimes in the name of religion.

    It is not new. It is the history of religion. It has always been at the base of all the problems in the Middle East. It continues. And we waste the lives and limbs and health of our people interfering in their ancient, diabolic, religious fratricide! All we obtain for that sick waste is the sick enmity of ignorant, diabolic jihadists.

    The historic evil of religion, Christianity included, is enough to make one convinced of how devilish religion is. It is presently invading and laying waste to our own politics and government.

    The guilty verdict of the sleazy ex-governor of Virginia and his equally sleazy wife for accepting bribes in return for political favors are perfect examples of the hypocrisy included in too much religion. Ex-governor McDonnell and Pat Robertson, his smug, illiterate, get-wealthy TV preacher and partner, are prominent and bold examples of religious ignorance, hypocrisy, and corruption.

  6. It is good to see the Airforce standing up against the forces of secualrism. The godless must not be allowed to infiltrate our Armed Forces and turn them against us. This man must be kept out. We are a nation UNDER GOD, as our motto has stated since the nation’s founding..

    As a Christian nation, we can no longer sit back and allow athiest infiltration, athiest indoctrenation, athiest subversion, and the international athiest conspiracy to sap and impurefy all of our precious bodily fluids.

  7. Like it or not, the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and the title of God (a real Person), is used in all governmental offices and oaths/affirmations.

    In my opinion, this war on religion in general, is causing people to disrespect things that were once well respected. And this is the cause of so much unhappiness in the world and hatred. The people of the world need to turn back to the true God, trust Him and give themselves to Him and His service and in so doing, serve their fellow men and women. Then see how happy you will become!

    Blessings!

  8. so says you, the person whose holy men continue to rape our children and cover it up. which you have just proclaimed to support and undoubtedly do so with your money, your mouth and the pea brained attached to it.
    pathetic

  9. Sister, you could not even tell me with a straight face what you mean by “Judeo-Christian Principles” without giving a vague, circular or nonsensical definition. There is no requirement for religious oaths for any government position. Like it or not, making such declarations “under God” are unconstitutional and in this case blatantly discriminatory.

    Its a nonsense term used by people who want to pretend that Christianity is the only religion to be acknowledged by government.

    The “war on religion” really amounts to people saying that you can not use religion as an excuse to act obnoxiously towards others. That government is not owned by your faith but represents all beliefs. What you are saying is that all Americans must accept and believe your version of God and religion. All others deserve no consideration. People like you only appreciate the 1st Amendment to the point where your faith may be favored. Any real understanding or appreciation of its purpose is well beyond you.

  10. Sister, what principles exactly are they? God is not mentioned once, or religion referred to, in the Constitution. In the Bill of Rights, separation of church and state is formalized, and what is the Air Force if not the state? What if the airman had been a Christian or Jew and refused to say God because he believed more in preserving that separation?
    Further, the Treaty of Tripoli, written by James Madison and negotiated by Geo. Washington in 1797, specifically says the U.S. is NOT a Christian nation. Anyone who thinks so is deluding him- or herself, but, then again, what is religion?

  11. re: Sister Geraldine
    “I want to go to the stoning!”
    Monte Python

  12. I’m a retired Air Force chief master sergeant. I was on active duty for more than 30 years and must have re-enlisted seven times. I’m not conventionally religious and the word “God” has no special meaning for me. While my commitment to the Air Force was genuine, the re-enlistment ceremony itself was a meaningless formality. I probably said “so help me God” while re-enlisting without giving it any thought. It didn’t inspire me, it didn’t hurt me, it was just a formality. All of the military services should offer the option of saying a religious oath or a secular oath. If an otherwise good airman was denied re-enlistment merely for refusing to say the words “so help me God” the Air Force was gravely wrong and should correct the problem ASAP.

  13. The Treaty of Tripoli was not written by James Madison, or any American. It was written in Arabic, and the article in question consists of a letter from the Pasha of Algiers to the Pasha of Tripoli, and our official English translation is merely a clumsy attempt to paraphrase what might have been meant by this obscure passage. Here is a literal annotated translation of the original Article 11 completed in 1930 by Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje, professor of eastern cultures and languages at Leiden.:

    “Praise be to God, who inspires the minds of rulers with causes of well-being and righteousness! The present matter may be in the interest of the land and the servants [of God], in order that things may be put in their place. This whole affair has been opened [by omission of one letter the Arabic reads “victories” instead of “opened”] by the intermediary of the exalted, honored Prince, the Lord Hassan Pasha, in the protected [by (rod] Algiers, may God strengthen him and give him victory and help him in accomplishing good things; thus in the beginning and in the end, and may the acquiescence in his order take place by considering all his affairs, and may his endeavor repose on the fitness of his reflection. So may God make it, the beginning of this peace, a good and graceful measure and an introduction having for result exaltation and glorification, out of love for our brother and friend and our most beloved, the exalted Lord Yussuf Pasha, [here follows the same word as in Article 10: al-munshi?, “residing” or “governing”] in the well-protected [by God] Tripoli, may God strengthen him by His grace and His favor, amen! Because our interests are one and united, because our aim is that acts may succeed by overthrowing justice, and the observance [of duty?; of treaties?; of the Sacred Law?] becomes praiseworthy by facts entirely, amen ! by making successful safety and security by permanence of innumerable benefits and pure and unmixed issue. Prosperity accompanies highness and facilitation of good by length of the different kinds of joy makes permanent. Praise be to God for the comprehensive benefit and your perfect gifts, may God make them permanent for us and for you, thus till the day of resurrection and judgment, as long as times last, amen!

    Further, if there are American people coming to the well-protected Tripoli, they wish to be, by your carefulness, honored [and free] from all disagreements as are, Indeed, all the [Christian] nations, so that nobody molests them and no injury befalls them; and likewise people from Tripoli, if alley proceed to the country of the Americans, they shall be honored, elevated upon the!” heads, nobody molesting or hindering them until they travel [homeward] in good state and prosperity. Thus. And greetings!”

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796e.asp

    See anything there about what kind of nation the United States is or isn’t? I don’t either.

    The United States may not be founded upon the religion of Christianity itself, but neither is it founded upon atheism. Common sense on this issue has been lost in the noise of both sides’ most ignorant extremists screaming at each other.

  14. Our country was founded on the basis of freedom of beliefs for EVERYONE not just the Christian sects on which it was founded. Atheists are a growing minority which have suppressed their beliefs for centuries in the face of Christian dogma. People like you are what keep medevial concepts of morality alive in our society where FREEDOM is law not SCRUPTURE.

  15. From http://www.airforce.com/learn-about/our-values/

    THE FIRST CORE VALUE: INTEGRITY FIRST

    The Airman is a person of integrity, courage and conviction.

    Integrity is a character trait. It is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. It is the moral compass, the inner voice, the voice of self-control and the basis for the trust imperative in today’s military.

    Integrity is the ability to hold together and properly regulate all of the elements of a personality. A person of integrity, for example, is capable of acting on conviction. A person of integrity can control impulses and appetites.

    But integrity also covers several other moral traits indispensable to national service.

    Doing what is right includes speaking the truth, and standing up for your convictions. The USAF hypocritically tries to force its own to desecrate the very values it supposedly stands for, and why? Religion.

    Isn’t is time to put religion in our past, and try using our natural logic and reason. I’ve never heard of anyone harming anyone else because of logic and reason.

  16. Inhale deeply, bliss will follow. Great advice Geraldine.

  17. “I’ve never heard of anyone harming anyone else because of logic and reason.”

    Go back to school and learn some ancient history. The classical philosophers had what they considered some very logical arguments for harming others. It all depends on what premises you start from.

  18. It’s nice to see the Air Force take a stand! Bad mouthing religion backfired
    so we need people to take a stand for the God of the Bible/religion! If you
    say you love Jesus then don’t follow the Bible/religion no Truth is in you!
    So many people today think Grace allows them to sin. Wrong! Grace allows
    us to Repent and then turn from our sin. Big difference! We must Repent!
    Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven so people
    who claim to be Christian then don’t change are if for a rude awakening on
    judgment day! Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk and 1 Corinthians 6:10
    says that all drunkards go to hell. The wine that Jesus made was new wine
    and diluted plus the Bible says don’t get drunk on strong wine so people
    who get drunk with wine are also wrong! We must Repent and then follow!

  19. Shawnie5, Like I said, I’ve never heard of it. Instead of childish derogatory remarks why don’t you simply provide an example?

  20. So if the damage can only be undone by an Act of Congress does that mean that the original exemption language was removed by an Act of Congress? The article reads as if the Air Force made a decision to change the oath without consulting the legislative branch. Why does it take extreme action to fix this?

  21. “The United States may not be founded upon the religion of Christianity itself, but neither is it founded upon atheism.”

    Which is an inherently meaningless statement.

    Belief in atheism is still worthy of 1st Amendment protection as any religious faith. So either you are just flinging poo at atheism or trying to imply something which runs counter to the thinking of Free Exercise of Religion and the Establishment Clause.

  22. As usual, a Bible thumper mistakes discrimination with taking a principled stand. More proof of the lack of moral thinking religion

    Our government is not beholden to Jesus, God, or any version of religious belief you or anyone holds. You have a right to believe whatever you want. Nobody has to be compelled to give a flying crap.

  23. If you are truly interested in examples, you can easily investigate Aristotle’s ideas about “natural slavery.”. In his view, there were natural slaves–who were not fully human because they lacked the ability to think or reason properly–and legal slaves, who merely hapoened to fall into their status as a result of circumstances such as war. He opined that merely legal slaves should be made free, while natural slaves, even if free, should be made slaves. Plato’s views were more or less the same. This is one reason, of course, why the “enlightenment thinkers” were so lukewarm about slavery; they were overly impressed with the classical philosophers and their very “logical” natural law theories.

  24. Well Socrates and Plato certainly were a lot more creative than some of the excuses religious texts had for supporting slavery.

    Anyone can say, God commands you to obey and you must accept. But it takes real skill to try to convince you that its logic and reason that compels you to agree to something so foolish.

  25. “We are a nation UNDER GOD”

    Said the little sheep begging for the slaughter house.

    This childish, ignorant nonsense must end. No maturity is possible with these ancient philosophies of abjection and irresponsibility.

    If we made room for God in American law – there would be no room for humans!
    Down with this Theocratic garbage.

    “I came to set fire to the world.” – Jesus
    No thanks.

  26. @Sister Geraldine,

    “The people of the world need to turn back to the true God”

    Said ISIS
    Said Osama Bin Laden
    Said Zionist Settlers
    Said Palestinian Terrorists
    Said Adolph Hitler
    Said Hirohito
    Said David Koresh

    Said Jesus: “bring to me those who would not have me as their King…”

    “EXECUTE THEM IN FRONT OF ME” – JESUS

  27. @KARLA,

    “It’s nice to see the Air Force take a stand!”

    Against freedom of speech ?????????

    Religion is cancer of the thought process!

  28. Shawnie5,
    Thank you for the example. Do you think it has meaning that you had to reach that far back into the antiquities of man to provide one?

    Do you feel modern men would come to the same conclusion? I think the overall consensus would be, and is, that this it is not correct.

    However instead of coming to conclusions through logic and reason in the time we now live in, relying on blind faith (referred to as “Blind’ for a reason) in a religion to come to a conclusion based on the doctrine of that religion, especially religions that come from the bronze age of man, is not only illogical, but dangerous.

    Although I don’t agree with Aristotle, I couldn’t help but see how his views are analogous to the religious. Although not born to be slaves, they willingly subjugate themselves, become sheep that follow a Shepard, all based on blind faith.

    Yes, you have given me an example from far in mans past of how one man used logic and reason to conclude he could rightfully harm his fellow man. I wonder though, can you look at religion in the same light? If so, I wonder how many examples you could provide where region is used to concluded one man can hurt another? Examples that are right here, right now, in our time?

    Belief in religions are not the way forward. It is a mill stone of the past tied around the neck of man that impedes his progress. Until man casts that burden off, he will never fully realize what he could become, and unfortunately will continue to have reason to mistreat his fellow man, because he allows faith to blind him.

  29. “Do you think it has meaning that you had to reach that far back into the antiquities of man to provide one?”

    Good question. Actually it DOES have meaning that we had to go that far back. Ever since the christianization of the roman empire we in the west have been living with the “Imago Dei” concept which colors our ethical views to one degree or another — even, unwittingly, those of atheists. This is what led to the repudiation of slavery in western christendom during the middle ages, and eventually to its abolition in the New World following its resurgence during the age of exploration. When you speak of “modern men” and “the times we now live itn” this is really what you’re talking about– ethical systems infused with a reverence for human life in its own right (free of qualifications related to tribal ties or ability to reason or what-have-you) that ultimately derives from religion and not from reason alone. Modernity in and of itself is no guarantee of civilization, as we can plainly see all around us. We are not “smarter” than the ancients, nor do we reason on a higher level than they did. The difference boils down to the different premises that we operate from, and there is nothing in history that inspires any confidence whatsoever that reason alone will keep us on a humane course if those premises are ever removed completely.

  30. Suzy, I think – I’m pretty sure – Ronald is speaking *very* tongue-in-cheek.

  31. Complete hogwash, sister. Give a good read to the genocide commanded by the Judeo-christian god portrayed in the books of Deuteronomy, the Judges, Samuel and Kings; and then come back here and lecture us about Judeo-christian principles.

    God help us if we were founded on such principles. Although a case could be made that the follow-up was very much about genocide and stealing what had belonged to the vanquished.

  32. Show me in the Fourth Gospel where it says the wine Jesus made was “diluted.” Quite to the contrary, you may remember that the headwaiter tells the bridegroom that “you’ve saved the good wine till now!”

    I DOUBT VERY MUCH that he’d have called dilute wine “good wine.”

  33. I think Karla must have had an alcoholic dad or ex-husband.

  34. Daniel-You need to read your Bible! If they had been drinking all day
    and the Bible says don’t get drunk do you really think Jesus would
    make strong wine so they could get even more drunk? Bible says
    don’t get drunk on strong wine so if there was strong wine that must
    mean there was wine that wasn’t strong like the wine Jesus made.
    Ephesians 5:18 says don’t get drunk on wine for it is debauchery
    but be filled with the Spirit! The term good wine doesn’t mean it was
    alcoholic but people who drink always want to twist the Scripture to
    justify their sin. Bible is clear that all drunkards go to hell. The wine
    Jesus made was not strong wine/was from the fruit of the vine and
    was for symbolic reasons not to get drunk! Read the whole Bible not
    just part of it because saving the best for last doesn’t mean that it was
    alcoholic wine plus it was new wine that was diluted not alcoholic!

  35. Karla, Jesus evidently did not share your, uh, simplistic view of alcohol consumption. The text actually says (in the Greek) that the guests were “already drunk” (usually rendered more delicately in English translations as something along the lines of “have been drinking freely,” but the Greek says they were drunk (they’d been drinking a couple days already, so it stands tho reason). And then with everybody already drunk (including Jesus in all likelihood) Jesus then makes MORE wine?

    Karla, you’re totally deluded about the culture and times in which Jesus lived. He was not a teetotaling Methodist or Baptist. Stop trying to make him fit your tiny little conception of “god.”

  36. Re: “But a spokeswoman for the Air Force told the Air Force Times the oath cannot be changed without an act of Congress.
    ‘Reciting “So help me God” in the re-enlistment and commissioning oaths is a statutory requirement,’ Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson said.”

    Paraphrase: “It doesn’t matter if something is unconstitutional. The AF has no balls and can’t think for itself; we’re all mindless drones doing the bidding of Congress. We have to do it anyway because Congress says to do it that way. Besides, this one guy crossing out ‘in god we trust’ might get back to Senator Ted Cruz and he could pitch another fit in the well of the Senate. We can’t have that.”

  37. Hi Daniel Berry, NYC,

    You say:

    Karla, Jesus evidently did not share your, uh, simplistic view of alcohol consumption. The text actually says (in the Greek) that the guests were “already drunk” (usually rendered more delicately in English translations as something along the lines of “have been drinking freely,” but the Greek says they were drunk (they’d been drinking a couple days already, so it stands tho reason). And then with everybody already drunk (including Jesus in all likelihood) Jesus then makes MORE wine?

    Karla, you’re totally deluded about the culture and times in which Jesus lived. He was not a teetotaling Methodist or Baptist. Stop trying to make him fit your tiny little conception of “god.”
    *****************
    You are correct, Jesus was not a teetotaling Methodist or Baptist.

    The story is an illustration—purely symbolic. It is of gnosis. It, like much of Holy Scripture, is used for partisanship, as PROPHESY would see this Day, and all the Seasons leading up. One might view it as a “safeguarding” of Truth, those places/planes which do not deny WHAT is of the Christ (a striving for … Understanding). This is why Jesus spoke in Parables, and spoke to the Disciples privately, as he knew the people did not understand, and would not, and still do not HEAR the fuller message (which is continuous, btw, as Spirit is ever-flowing and cannot be contained … not even in that wafer/chalice blessed by their “fathers”). Man is in infancy on his understanding of WHAT IS GOD. God is Spirit … (John 4).
    In addition …

    Jesus may have been accused of being a “wine-bibber” but the Spiritual Connotation of His Words shows his Essenes background. The gnostics (not Gnosticism), were silenced (quite brutally) long ago, but there is glimmer today, and this will be lifted for experiential Voice. Man cannot contain what is fruitful. That which is stagnant will fade … much like a watercolor dunked too many times in a tub of water.

    *The “wine” of Restoration (Renewal) is what is meant in the transformation. This is what is spoken in the passages that share: do not be conformed to this world; be of a the transformed by the renewing of your mind.

    Peace and Love

  38. Seems like the Air Force is getting a bad rep for this when they probably shouldn’t…

    “But a spokeswoman for the Air Force told the Air Force Times the oath cannot be changed without an act of Congress.”

    It seems like they’re saying “yes, these rules violate the constitution, but we don’t have the authority to change them.” What’s odd is that the organization is now attempting to sue the Air Force for not doing something they don’t have the power to do, rather then petitioning the people who have the authority to change the oath.

  39. The position using the so called separation between church and state misses a major point that makes the issue moot. The ground strict separationists walk on every day was created by God. He owns it. The oxygen they inhale thousands of times each day is a provision of Almighty God. God is an omniscient, omnipotent Individual who is error free in His judgment or decision making and perfect in His love for every human being on earth. I know this is true because I have had a 38 year personal relationship with Him. Why not consider His perspective in the affairs of the nation and show some honor and respect for Him in statements such as the Pledge of Allegiance?

  40. Show me where God is mentioned in the 1st Amendment and you might have a point. People who oppose the separation of church and state generally are trying to say that they don’t actually like freedom of religion. They want their faith to govern all others and seek unfettered power to do so.

    Separation of church and state is what makes free exercise of religion possible. One cannot truly have one without the other.

  41. Ronald–I always wondered how our forefathers and foremothers justified the genocide of Native Americans and the buying and selling of other human beings, as was done during slavery. I should have known! How naïve of me. Obviously it’s because, as you have pointed out, we are, and always have been, ” A Christian Nation.” That’s for clearing this up for me.

  42. “In my opinion, this war on religion in general, is causing people to disrespect things that were once well respected. And this is the cause of so much unhappiness in the world and hatred.”

    Actually, no, Sister….which you certainly are not.

    The cause is stems from ignorance and childhood indoctrination which has been your unhappy fate.

    Sam Harris had it exactly right. “Religion allows people by the billions to believe things only lunatics could believe on their own.”

  43. Tim,

    I would rather give my allegiance to Almighty God and his kingdom or heavenly government, of which his son, Jesus, is King….than to any flag or country on earth.

    Pay Caesar’s things to Caesar (pay taxes and obey laws as long as they don’t conflict with God’s laws) and God’s things to God (whole-souled love and worship).

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