Don’t Force Airmen to Take Religious Oath


Target: Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force (SAF/OS)

Goal: Allow airmen to be exempt from taking a religious oath in order to serve in the Air Force

Recently an airman tried reenlisting in the Air Force. Because this individual is an atheist, he crossed out the words ‘so help me God’ in his reenlistment contract. He was then told if he did not include this religious affirmation in his oath, he would be denied reenlistment and would need to leave the service of the Air Force.

Freedom of religion is a constitutional right, as stated in the First Amendment. A right to religion also entitles citizens to a right without religion if they see fit. There is no test for religion in any public office of the government and the Constitution prohibits it. This religious oath the Air Force is currently using is in direct conflict with the First Amendment. By denying this airman reenlistment based upon his religion, his civil rights are being infringed upon.

Only recently has this oath to God become a staple of the enlistment contract. An older version of the Air Force Instruction on this matter had an exception stating that if airmen had a personal reason, they could omit the phrasing ‘so help me God.’ The update of the Air Force Instruction, as of October 2013, dropped this exception, making the religious affirmation a statutory requirement of airmen.

The entire point of the oath is the subscription of loyalty, honor, duty and honesty to the Air Force. If the Air Force is now requiring airmen to sign this document they are either discriminating on the basis of religion or they are asking airmen to lie, thus negating the oath.

Under no circumstance should this be acceptable to anyone in the government or any of the forces that so bravely defend our government, the constitution and this country. Part of what our military is in place to do is defend our freedoms. They should not be infringing upon those same freedoms. This airman should be entitled to reenlist and the religious phrase should be struck from the oath to the Air Force; if nothing else the exception clause should be reinstated in this document. Please sign below to show your support of keeping religious freedom intact for those that defend us.


Dear Ms. James,

Recently an atheist airman at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was trying to reenlist. This airman was denied due to the fact he was told he would need to ‘swear to God’ in order to keep his service to our country. This mandatory stipulation of the pledge is only a recent development as of October 2013. Prior to this update there had been an exception that allowed airmen to decline taking this religious oath for personal reasons.

Our country maintains a separation of church and state and there is no test of religion for public office. Our military members protect our freedoms and they are entitled to the same rights as citizens. This religious oath is discriminatory and forces religion into a secular profession. Please put the religious exception clause back into the pledge and allow this airman to reenlist.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

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