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Thread: Airman denied re-enlistment for refusing to say "so help me God"

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    Airman denied re-enlistment for refusing to say "so help me God"

    [URL="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20140904/NEWS05/309040066/Group-Airman-denied-reenlistment-refusing-say-help-me-God-[/URL] I was not aware that the AFI had changed. I think this should be illegal if in fact is not already. Thoughts?
    Last edited by USAF-Controller; 09-05-2014 at 06:48 PM.

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    I know my last 2 re=ups in the navy, we were allowed to just say "i so swear', rather than so help me god, if we didn't want to say anything religious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garhkal View Post
    I know my last 2 re=ups in the navy, we were allowed to just say "i so swear', rather than so help me god, if we didn't want to say anything religious.
    As it should be. The Air Force has a different view, it would seem.

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    Must have changed since I joined. Hell, even 21 years ago I had the choice of "swear" or "affirm" and don't remember the word God being in there anywhere. As a matter of fact, the form actually has "(or affirm)" after the word swear. 5 re-enlistments...never once was I forced to "swear to God" anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandsjames View Post
    Must have changed since I joined. Hell, even 21 years ago I had the choice of "swear" or "affirm" and don't remember the word God being in there anywhere. As a matter of fact, the form actually has "(or affirm)" after the word swear. 5 re-enlistments...never once was I forced to "swear to God" anything.
    Looking at the article is seems the AFI is based on the law and takes it word for word.

    I looked up the law, and the "so help me God" part was added in 1962...and the history does not indicate any changes to that part since then.

    I'm wondering if the AFI previously added the option to delete the God part because someone thought it was a good idea...but in last year's review someone did a little research and said "Hey, the law doesn't give that option...we have to follow the law."

    Looks to me like criticism of the AF in this case is unfounded, and that criticism should be directed at Congress...we can only follow what they have put into the law.

    At any rate, seems clear this is a bogus requirement...curious that it is such a big deal to this guy that he's willing to risk his career on it....maybe he still has many months left on his enlistment and just presing the "press to test" button.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Measure Man View Post
    Looking at the article is seems the AFI is based on the law and takes it word for word.

    I looked up the law, and the "so help me God" part was added in 1962...and the history does not indicate any changes to that part since then.

    I'm wondering if the AFI previously added the option to delete the God part because someone thought it was a good idea...but in last year's review someone did a little research and said "Hey, the law doesn't give that option...we have to follow the law."

    Looks to me like criticism of the AF in this case is unfounded, and that criticism should be directed at Congress...we can only follow what they have put into the law.

    At any rate, seems clear this is a bogus requirement...curious that it is such a big deal to this guy that he's willing to risk his career on it....maybe he still has many months left on his enlistment and just presing the "press to test" button.
    It would seem that according to Title 10 USC 502, you are right. The fault lies with Congress and not the Air Force. I understand why it is such a big deal to him. I'm sure if the oath said "under Allah" then no Christian would ever re-enlist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by USAF-Controller View Post
    It would seem that according to Title 10 USC 502, you are right. The fault lies with Congress and not the Air Force. I understand why it is such a big deal to him. I'm sure if the oath said "under Allah" then no Christian would ever re-enlist.
    Sure, a Christian would not want to offend their own god, bow down to another god, etc. lest his eternal life be put in jeopardy. (even though Allah is just the Arabic word for God) This is not a problem for an atheist.

    I mean I get the principle and all...but is it a big enough issue? I consider myself pretty much an atheist, but maybe not that good of one...you want me to ask for God's help in keeping my oath? Okay...I don't actually believe I'll get it, but I can say it.

    If it were a small issue, yeah I might raise the flag on it...but, would I refuse to reenlist over the issue? Hell no...too big of a personal price to pay for losing that pissing contest. I guess it's a "choose your battles" thing, and I'd expect this battle to not be as important to an atheist as the opposite might be to a religous person...as we really don't believe our eternal life is at stake.

    Like the AF Creed...do I really feel like I'm a Warrior, Sentry and Avenger? No, not really...would I say the words? Sure.
    Last edited by Measure Man; 09-05-2014 at 10:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Measure Man View Post
    Sure, a Christian would not want to offend their own god, bow down to another god, etc. lest his eternal life be put in jeopardy. (even though Allah is just the Arabic word for God) This is not a problem for an atheist.

    I mean I get the principle and all...but is it a big enough issue? I consider myself pretty much an atheist, but maybe not that good of one...you want me to ask for God's help in keeping my oath? Okay...I don't actually believe I'll get it, but I can say it.

    If it were a small issue, yeah I might raise the flag on it...but, would I refuse to reenlist over the issue? Hell no...too big of a personal price to pay for losing that pissing contest. I guess it's a "choose your battles" thing, and I'd expect this battle to not be as important to an atheist as the opposite might be to a religous person...as we really don't believe our eternal life is at stake.

    Like the AF Creed...do I really feel like I'm a Warrior, Sentry and Avenger? No, not really...would I say the words? Sure.
    I get what you are saying. Perhaps this Airman is taking a stand or perhaps he will re-enlist anyway. Either way, this is an issue that needs to be brought up ans I believe that the current USC is in violation of the constitution. Hopefully this will generate a change.

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    Quote Originally Posted by USAF-Controller View Post
    I get what you are saying. Perhaps this Airman is taking a stand or perhaps he will re-enlist anyway. Either way, this is an issue that needs to be brought up ans I believe that the current USC is in violation of the constitution. Hopefully this will generate a change.
    Yeah, I agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Measure Man View Post
    Sure, a Christian would not want to offend their own god, bow down to another god, etc. lest his eternal life be put in jeopardy. (even though Allah is just the Arabic word for God) This is not a problem for an atheist.

    I mean I get the principle and all...but is it a big enough issue? I consider myself pretty much an atheist, but maybe not that good of one...you want me to ask for God's help in keeping my oath? Okay...I don't actually believe I'll get it, but I can say it.

    If it were a small issue, yeah I might raise the flag on it...but, would I refuse to reenlist over the issue? Hell no...too big of a personal price to pay for losing that pissing contest. I guess it's a "choose your battles" thing, and I'd expect this battle to not be as important to an atheist as the opposite might be to a religous person...as we really don't believe our eternal life is at stake.

    Like the AF Creed...do I really feel like I'm a Warrior, Sentry and Avenger? No, not really...would I say the words? Sure.
    While I don't necessarily agree with the focus on Christians in this case I think you are right. I have been troubled for years over the trend toward evangelical proselytizing in the AF.

    Having said that I don't think this is a real change. The 'swear of affirm' part is at the beginning. The last line is 'So help me God". Seems like it have been for several decades.

    Putting aside that the term God should satisfy all the Abrahamic religions it ignores those that aren't of those faiths and of course the atheists.

    I think it's time to seriously revisit the oath but I agree that these airmen need to pick their battles well.
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