PUGET SOUND TRAIL – Religious freedom imperative for US military: “So help me God,” similar language must be optional in oaths

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It is a bit unclear what the Academy means by “optional,” however. What Weinstein wants to know is whether the words will be taken out or left in, given that he wants the words removed completely.

This removal would be controversial. Religiously inclined people might feel left out, whereas if the words were left in, those individuals who would prefer not to say them would also feel excluded.

It is still unclear what the Academy will choose to do with the official wording of the phrase; but, the issue highlights the distinction between religious freedom and freedom from religion, which continues to be a problem with many official oaths and pledges used today.

The Air Force Academy in Colorado is not the only academy or institution in this country to refer to God in their pledge. The official Army Enlistment Oath also contains the words “So help me God.” And although it is not required for the president to swear or put a hand on the Bible, or say the phrase “So help me God,” it has become commonplace and expected.

Why do we, as a nation, continue to force, perhaps unintentionally, Christian ideology onto others?

Regardless of citizens’ religious beliefs in general, there is no place for religion in the government. Having a religion or lack thereof is a personal matter and one that should not be interfered with; furthermore, it should not be a concern of the government.

As long as our government officials, military members and general population are being pressured to use language tied to the Christian faith, the world will see us as a Christian nation.

We cannot claim to be a country that honors religious freedom as it is clearly stated in the Constitution as long as this is the case.

“When one dons a U.S. Military uniform, there is only one religious symbol: the American flag,” Weinstein said.

A common religion should not be what unites our country or military, but rather a belief in the betterment of the nation as a whole.

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