COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE – “So Help Me God at USAFA”: For and Against

Removing the words takes nothing away from believers

By Mikey Weinstein, MRFF Founder and President

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Practicing Christian cadets and others should have every right to say “So Help Me God” at the end the USAFA Honor Oath, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation stands ready to defend that right. Removing those words from the published oath does nothing to change that right.
Likewise, cadets that may not believe in a supreme being have the right to be treated with respect, not forced to say something they do not believe, not coerced or singled-out for not saying something.

Mandating that cadets add “So Help Me God” to the oath also strongly suggests that the institution requires or expects faith in a god as a necessary and sufficient condition for upholding the code or honorable service – something that numerous cadets and alumni know to be false.

Article 6 of the Constitution protects all citizens from any “religious test” as a condition of holding an office of public trust. Even if the original officer’s oath (that did not contain SHMG) has been changed by Act of Congress (1862) to include SHMG, legally, cadets and officers cannot be forced to say it, and if they omit it, they cannot be denied the right to serve.
To be inclusive of all cadets and officers, we suggest that anyone administering the Cadet Honor Oath (or the Commissioning Oath), done in “repeat after me” style, stop just before the traditional SHMG. Then, the oath-taker can add whatever he or she would like as a personal statement of faith or meaning, or just stop there, knowing that their word is their bond.Then, the administrator of the oath isn’t coercing the taker, based upon rank or position, and the oath taker’s final statement (if they make one) is truly meaningful to them – not the simple parroting of a line having little or no meaning. ‘So Help Me God’ will do well for most and we at the MRFF completely endorse that statement. Personally, if put in that situation again, I’d say “So Help Me Bonnie,” for my wife.

Click here to read this article


An oath that doesn’t include God
becomes meaningless

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • Before being medically discharged, I remember my year at West Point, and the songs and chants we learned, such as “The Corps, bare-headed, salute it, with eyes up, thanking our God, that we of the Corps are treading where they of the Corps have trod.”
  • Founding father and revolutionary general George Washington called for a national day of thanksgiving to acknowledge God’s providence in America. America’s greatest general of the 19th century, Robert E. Lee, ordered his troops to obey the Sabbath, saying, “I can only say that I am. trusting in Christ alone for salvation.” “Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid,” begins a prayer by America’s greatest 20th century general, West Point graduate Douglass MacArthur. This is what our most successful military leaders of the past did and had to say.
  • What’s Air Force Academy graduate and atheist Mikey Weinstein say? Forget all that! Atheists portray themselves as the quintessence of reason. Oh, really?
  • “So help me God” recognizes human frailty. An oath that includes God means something; one made to anything or anyone else, means no more than the prevailing winds of the day. If one isn’t to pledge oneself to God, as one understands God, any oath is so much wishful-thinking and, at heart, vacuous.
  • Mikey Weinstein’s response: Again, the MRFF supports [the above author] Mr. Makinney and friends’ right to add SHMG to the oath, meeting their sincere obligations. But Makinney’s world (and Gen. Lee’s) excludes all from service that don’t believe as he (Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic, Jew) and is self-contradictory, given Matthew 5:33,37 “Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne. But let your communication be, Yea, Nay, for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” Upholding the First Amendment’s freedoms, we choose the Constitution’s Article 6 guidance against religious tests and cede to the soldier the right to choose her/his god (or not).

Click to read this article

Share this page:

Commenter Account Access

  • Register for a commenter account
    (Not required to post comments, but will save you time if you're a regular commenter)
  • Log in using your existing account
  • Click here to edit your profile and change your password
  • All comments are subject to our Terms of Use

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *