The Air Force Academy is considering dropping the phrase “so help me God’ from its honor oath after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) filed a complaint.
The Academy’s Honor Review Committee met Wednesday to review the oath in response to the MRFF complaint, said Public Affairs Director Maj. Brus Vidal.
“They considered a range of options and some of those options will be presented to Academy leaders and, ultimately, the Academy Superintendent for a decision,” he said.
“Removing this voluntary affirmation expresses hostility toward religion.”
- Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty
The current version of the Academy’s oath reads: “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.”
Last week, the Colorado Springs Independent newspaper published a photograph of a poster at the academy which included the oath. The newspaper then forwarded the photo to MRFF President Mikey Weinstein.
Weinstein, a frequent critic of Christianity in the armed forces, wrote a letter to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson. Weinstein said she responded 68 minutes later.
“The Prep School poster has been taken down,” she wrote in an email reply posted by the Independent. “We are assessing the situation and have many mission elements, to include Prep School leadership, the Honor Review Committee and other entities on base, working to put together a way ahead that is respectful to all perspectives.”
While the poster has been removed, the phrase “so help me God” remains as part of the oath.
Vidal told the Air Force Times they could either make no change, make the God part optional or strike the entire oath.
“We value an inclusive environment that promotes dignity and respect for all,” Vidal told the newspaper.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a Marine Corps veteran, told Fox News it’s not about accommodating those who don’t believe in God.
“That already exists,” he said. “No one is forced to say this. This is about imposing an atheistic view on everyone so there can be no recognition of God.”
Perkins said the incident raises questions about who is in charge of the nation’s military.
“Is it in fact the military chiefs or is it Mikey Weinstein?” he asked.
Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty said the incident is “one more example of the Academy yielding to Mikey Weinstein at the expense of official military policy.”
“Removing this voluntary affirmation expresses hostility toward religion,” Crews said. “Further, it removes the solemnity and gravity of the oath, particularly for the many cadets who come from a faith tradition.”
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is "God Less America."