Please Fight For Us MRFF (re: ‘So Help Me God’ Oath)

> Mr. Weinstein I’m a (rank withheld) in the USAF. I am a combat special forces veteran and have been very highly decorated. I have (names of decorations withheld) and even more than one Purple Heart. I have been in the USAF for well over (number of years withheld) now and am supposed to reenlist in just (number of months withheld) more months. I am a devout Chrsitian (Protestant denomination withheld)) and even though I’ve alway said “So help me God” in my (number withheld) prior reenlistments with the Air Force and even my first one I WILL NOT DO IT THIS NEXT TIME! For solidarity with my USAF brothers and sisters in arms who are being given a “relgious test” by the senior leadership in my USAF. In all my time I never thought it would come to this. I’ve never asked for MRFF’s help before but I am now. If they kick me out for failing to say those words I will ask MRFF to help me fight this in Court. My wife (name withheld) cried about this all last night. We have (number withheld) kids too but this is the only thing we can do. Please don’t le the Air Force do this Mr. Weinstein. Please fight for us with all MRFF has to fight with. I have never been this sad before to serve my country as an airman.
>
> Thank MRFF for being our Champions
> V/R
> (USAF Airman’s name, rank, AFSC, military unit and installation all withheld)


Dear USAF Special Forces Vet,

Mikey shared your letter with me and I was moved to respond. First, I’m appreciative of the commitment to our nation demonstrated by your length of service, awards, and injuries you’ve suffered in the line of duty.

Second, I wish to commend you for the special courage demonstrated by your decision to not swear an oath ‘so help you G-d’ despite your profound religious convictions. I am always surprised at the number of people who’ve made lesser or even similar sacrifices in the name of ‘our ideals’ but who wilt like daisies when confronted with the choice of knuckling under to social pressure or unjust regulations to conform rather than act according to the Constitutional ideals they’ve sworn to ‘support and defend’.

Clearly, performing an oath in public is a public ritual intended to enhance the gravity of the commitment not just for the individual swearing the oath, but also for those observing it; essentially, it is a bonding ritual. But, as a person of faith, you must also know that that public utterance of the ‘so help me…’ phrase is only central to the public ritual since an all-knowing deity would know what’s in your heart, perhaps even before you know it. There’s no need to say it aloud for the benefit of your deity. Hence, to force pro-forma swearing to a deity – any deity – is a performance designed for public consumption to promote a specific agenda; in this case a military dominated by Christian domionists to the exclusion of all other faiths including the majority of those Chrisitans who aren’t ‘Christian enough’.

By the same token, refusing to swear a religious oath (the Constitutional ‘default’ position), you also make a profound public statement (enhanced by your personal military history and your religious beliefs) regarding the need for the military to uphold in its daily life & public rituals the very Constitutional tenets it is sworn to defend.

So, I say kudos to you for your stance! Imagine the brevity of the life-span of this egregiously unconstitutional demand if 50, 60,or even 75% of those re-enlisting (not to mention new enlistees!) had your courage and willingness to confront the very enemy they’re swearing to protect us from and say ‘I so swear.’ Full stop!

My thanks & admiration,

Rael Nidess, M.D.
Marshall, TX

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5 Comments

  1. Odo

    If any airman who didn’t want to say “So help me God” asked for me to preside over their reenlistment, I’d say “yes.” The language in the AFI is clear, but it is also prima facie illegal; thus, as an officer I have a legal obligation to not comply with it.

  2. Buck

    I assume that the commenter means unconstitutional. It is legal. Also, there is increasingly no more than a prima facie assumption (never certain) as to what is now constitutional or not. At “first look” it would appear that this is a religious test and that a religious test is unconstituional. But, that is up to a never certain and never ending interpretation of a “living” and evolving Constitution. Nothing is our modern liberal paradigm in fixed. “Fixed” is it’s anti-theisis.

  3. Odo

    Has anyone engaged in a FOIA request on the new AFI yet? It might be interesting to see who changed the language, how that change was reflected on the staff summary sheet (did the SSS say that the AFI had undergone “routine, non-controversial edits?” That would be my guess), and how was it staffed?

    My guess is that a would-be theocrat in the AF personnel career field changed the language, and didn’t note in the accompanying paperwork that they had just drafted an almost-certainly unconstitutional regulation. Thus, if the Staff Summary Sheet that accompanied the draft AFI didn’t note that it was controversial, then many offices (including the senior AF legal folks) may have signed off on it without knowing what was in it.

    That’s why the AF is looking to DoD lawyers to overturn the rule. They can’t very well say “Oh, yeah. Oops, we signed off on this unconstitutional AFI, but now we’re ruling it unenforcable.” That would make them look bad. So they’re looking to DoD GC to bail them out on this one.

  4. Richard Douglas

    Folks:

    I guess I’m confused. Has the Air Force published some sort of guidelines bringing about these outcomes? Is there some sort of direct evidence–beyond the servicemen’s statements–that indicates this has become a policy, tacit or otherwise? Or do we have the actions of a few commanders requiring a reminder from their senior leaders about the DOD policy?

    I was an AF enlisted person, then went on to become both an officer and a commander. I’ve re-enlisted and commissioned hundreds of AF members. Personally, I always reminded members of their options to “affirm” and to omit “so help me God.” I’ve seen the oaths administered without this reminder/advice, but never once did I see someone require those two statements. I’m not saying it isn’t happening, but I wonder how much of it could be cleared up by senior leadership re-emphasizing the policy?

  5. Richard Douglas

    Okay, I see in another article an allusion to a policy to this effect, but I didn’t see what policy it was.

    The Air Force needs to get in line with the DOD on this one. How man Air Force lawyers does it take to detect a religious test? One more than they employ, I guess. Sheesh.

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