Airman Ordered to Swear a Religious Oath or Get Out of the Air Force


The concept of freedom, or the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint was at one time thought to be the hallmark of American exceptionalism regardless it has never fully been realized for all citizens throughout the nation’s history. The Founding Fathers and Constitution’s framers were well aware that many European immigrants came to America to escape governments that hindered and retrained, often through harsh punishment including execution, their citizen’s rights that led them to included a Constitutional guarantee of basic freedoms in the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment.

Since Barack Obama has been President, Republicans, their religious right overlords, and the Catholic High Court have gone to extraordinarily lengthy measures to eliminate one of the primary tenets of the First Amendment; the religious freedom clause. Oh, to be sure the axis of Christianity has in fact ruled that Christians enjoy religious freedom to impose their will on the nation, but that interpretation of the religious freedom clause is as far from the framers’ intent as the Earth is from the Sun.

There are only two references to religion in the Constitution by design, and besides forbidding Congress from enacting laws establishing religion, Article VI paragraph 3 says, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Historically, the “no religious test clause” has been interpreted to mean that no federal employee, whether elected or appointed, career or political, can be required to adhere to or accept any religion or belief.

The Supreme Court certainly understood exactly what the Constitution’s framers intended in both Article VI and the First Amendment, at least before the Court became the legislative arm of the Catholic Church, but that is the subject of another article. In its 1961 ruling in the case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the secular High Court held that “neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person ‘to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.'” Earlier, an equally secular High Court stated in its 1946 decision, Girouard v. United States, that “The test oath is abhorrent to our tradition,” and that “Over the years, Congress has meticulously respected that tradition and even in time of war has sought to accommodate the military requirements to the religious scruples of the individual.”

However, the United States Congress did pass a “religious test” law stating that armed services members ‘should‘ swear an oath that includes the words “so help me god.” The law is patently unconstitutional according to the First Amendment’s prohibition on Congress establishing religion, as well as the “religious test” clause in Article VI. The High Court has indicated on several occasions that although they occasionally show deference to the military, that deference does not and cannot be used to support the military practice of forcing its members to swear a religious oath under any circumstance.

The United States Air Force, itself sworn to “support and defend the Constitution,” cannot abide by, support, or defend either the First Amendment or Article VI and rejected an atheist airman’s attempt to reenlist to serve and defend his country unless he swears a religious oath. The airman wants desperately to remain in service to his country and is threatening a lawsuit if the Air Force kicks him out for not adhering to the unconstitutional religious test demanding he swear a religious oath.  The religious oath requirement is newly reinstated to accommodate America’s recent lurch, and inevitable transformation into a theocratic state along the lines of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.  Even though serving in the armed forces is not an elected or appointed office, it certainly falls under the purview of “public trust of the United States,” and it is beyond the pale that the U.S. Congress dared to make a law mandating a “religious test” to serve in the military that effectively “established religion.”

From the nation’s founding and continuing to the present day, there have been theocrats attempting to require religion by government as well as demand adherence to one particular religion. During the ratification process of the U.S. Constitution between 1788 and 1789, the “religious test clause” was a source of fiery dispute among the states. The overwhelming objection was that “Jews, Turks, infidels, Heathens,” and dog-forbid, “even Roman Catholics may eventually hold national office under the proposed Constitution.” In fact, a Pennsylvanian, Benjamin Rush, complained bitterly that “many pious people wish the name of the Supreme Being had been introduced somewhere in the new Constitution,” and the Religious Test Clause became, and still is, a focal point for the religious rights’ reservations about, and virulent opposition to, the Constitution’s entirely secular language.

It is beyond comprehension, but there is a fairly substantial number of conservatives, Republicans, and most religious right adherents who are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only was America formed as a Christian nation, but that god almighty himself founded America and personally wrote the U.S. Constitution he hand delivered to the Founding Fathers. Interestingly, they have no explanation for why god failed miserably to make even a passing reference to himself, his only-begotten son Jesus Christ, or the Christian bible in what few Americans would dispute is America’s founding document. It is noteworthy to reiterate for the religious right and their revisionist history, for the millionth time, there was no American reference to “god” until the 1950s when theocrats made “In god we trust” the national motto. It is that motto that Congress, and the military, has embraced as if uttered from god’s mouth to reject the reenlistment of an airman serving his country, supporting and defending the Constitution, and willing to pay the ultimate price without the need of a deity or swearing a religious oath.

 It is unclear why the Air Force is sticking to their demand that the unnamed airman either forfeits his religious freedom and swear an unconstitutional religious oath or leave the armed services. This government, and Department of Defense, has no qualms ordering its members to rush into harm’s way and pay the ultimate price out of sheer patriotism, obedience, and devotion to supporting and defending the Constitution, so why they demand a religious oath to fight and die for America is beyond comprehension. However, there is, and has been, devious machinations by Christians who have infiltrated the highest ranks of the military to demand religious adherence of service men and women regardless the Constitution’s robust protection of religious freedom.

It is a terrible travesty that despite the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s framers due diligence to prevent theocrats from inserting their religious sensibilities into every aspect of every Americans life, their efforts are being eroded at an alarming pace. It is becoming more apparent every day in America that religious freedom means aberrant Christians, corporations, and the United States military can impose their theocracy on the people, government, and service members with veritable impunity. And, it is entirely because of Republicans empowering the religious right, an unconstitutional congressional law, a religious military, and five Catholic conservatives on the Supreme Court; it is the new definition of freedom in America.

48 Replies to “Airman Ordered to Swear a Religious Oath or Get Out of the Air Force”

  1. The #RR (Religious Right) poses a clear and present danger to America. I feel sorry for those who don’t see that and don’t fight it.
    Side note: there are states that ban atheists from holding office, how does THAT work?

  2. This is not good. Religious fanatics + Nuclear weapons. What can possibly go wrong.

    When I took my oath we had a choice with the “so help me god.”

  3. Just something for you all to think about. When one is being fired upon all one cares about is that their fellow military members are covering their backs. What religion they are does not matter. WE cover for each other.
    What is before to long the military going to divide up troops by religious preferences from now on before any deployments?
    This issue is ridiculous and far from the important status that it is currently being given.

  4. This is exactly why there is a Muslim in the white house and causing that Muslim plague to flourish and bankrupt America

    the Constitution by design, and besides forbidding Congress from enacting laws establishing religion, Article VI paragraph 3 says, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

  5. Were you born an ignorant racist, or do you have to work hard at being one? Regardless what your ignorant sheeple mind tells you Obama is not a muslim.

    You do realize that bashing muslims is anti-semitism.

  6. What I do not understand is that, somehow our home grown Xtians we have now running our Country, can look in a mirror, and can not see the same religous RADICAL people they “preach against”.

    Hypocritical preaching, at it’s worst.

  7. see Dr Strangelove (or how I learned to love the Bomb)

    Slim Pickens riding the big one down is still a classic…

  8. The utter stupidity of your post only shows the derangement of your hatred for a Black man who has achieved a far greater status in life than what you can only hope to do. You made that choice, however, to allow lies and hatred of a Black man to delude your thought process and become a tool for the fundamental extremists amongst us. Thus, you will reap its consequences and ultimately only you must pay the price. Sad, very sad indeed to be so caught up in a web of lies and not necessarily of your own making. How does it feel to be paying the price for someone else’s avarice?

  9. I never have to worry about serving jury duty or even testifying in a trial here in Lancaster. I was called for jury duty and because I’m an atheist I’m on the do not contact list for duty. Also I’m on a list along with other atheists here in Fairfield county who will not even be summoned to even testify even if subpoenaed. The Air Force Academy should be shut down and re-opened under the new rules that Christians have to KEEP THEIR IGNORANT MOUTHS SHUT!!! If the preach or teach or bully others with their faith they should be EXPELLED!

  10. I find the concept of any religion determining a country’s laws scary. Many of our representatives have gone into government lately as Christian soldiers who decry Sharia law. They march to the orders of the likes of Pat Robertson (anybody remember Jim Baker & Tammie Faye?) Pat’s predecessors. If you take a look at what these folks are proposing and Sharia law there is very little light them. So if you are concerned about all of the death and slaughter going on in the Middle East religious nations then beware this is the same thing with a different name.

  11. Well, to be fair, bashing Muslim Turks, Iranians, Indonesians, and South Asians would not be anti-semitism

  12. Nothing like traveling in your ox cart to the stoning of an adulterer or on your ass to the crucifiction of a blasphemer.

    Soon to be known as family fun time.

  13. There are quite a number of sentences that necessitate me reading and rereading in order to figure out what the author is intending to say.

  14. Google pat roobertson + dimonds

    there’s tons on this just because you choose ignore it doesn’t make it B.S.

  15. Exactly who is it that has “ordered” the U.S.A.F. to now “reject” its applicants based on their religious preferences??? That would appear too be an “unlawful order”. In my opinion. Are we “all” now being “required” to become good little “christian soldiers” in order to join and serve “our country” in the U.S. military today? Do we now specifically fight for and serve the truly evil, corrupt, religious con-artist priests and their “make believe” (phoney) god’s battles for them? How can shit like this happen on our-shift? Or even be allowed to persist for any length of time?

  16. And yet, the right wing is afraid of Sharia Law! What is the difference here? God or Allah???? Isn’t it one in the same being? The oath used to have the option of “Swear or Affirm” and you could opt out of the “So Help Me God”. Which by the way, applies to the Presidential Oath as well.

  17. Holy moly you guys are as hysterical as the Truthers and Bundyites. No one is making anyone in any of the Armed Forces swear oaths of allegiance to anything or anyone but good old Uncle Sam. Take a breather, folks – yer all gonna end up like the mouth breathing gun bearers you love to hate on. Sheesh.

  18. I have asked numerous times for someone to quote me the text in the Constitution which would give any credence to the concept that America was founded on “Judeo-Christian” principles.

    Nobody seems to be able to provide an answer.

  19. in Jan. 1. 1802.Thomas jefferson wrote
    to the Danbury Baptists:
    “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. (from the Library of Congresss)

  20. We no longer have a professional military. Professional militaries don’t operate like that.

    See Kipling’s “Soldiers Three” stories and George Fisher’s “Flashman in the Great Game.”

    Both about British colonial troops in Afghanistan. And religion.

  21. Sadly, if Thomas Jefferson were running for the 2016 ticket, he would not stand a chance due to backstabbing and media hype.

  22. There are no references to the newly formed country of the United States as a Christian country. The forefathers went to great links to encourage freedom of religion, but at the same time to separate it from any government recognition or link it to any government organization or function of any kind. They knew of the history of the corruption of the Catholic Church over European nations, and similar corruption of the Monarchy and the Church of England. They wanted no chance that the same corruption could ever infect the Liberty of Americans. In addition, the Treaty of Tripoli actually explains to the Muslim nations of the time how the United States is not a Christian nation.

  23. In 1796, passed unanimously by the senate and signed by President John Adams the Treaty of Tripoli contains the following provision: Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

  24. I’m with you Martha and would have commented had you not done so.
    I did wonder whether using ‘went’ instead of ‘gone’ was normal usage in America,

  25. ummm.. respectfully… I have to disagree… we have an entirely professional Military… absent the draft everyone in the military is there by choice..

    Kipling’s stories were idealized versions of benevolent British sovereignty… plenty of the people in the military at that time were conscripted and while the Officer Corp was
    ‘professional’ the officers were often granted their commissions either because of station or thru purchase…

  26. Forcing people to pledge to any religion is an inherent violation of their freedom of religion. It is an obscene trespass on the vision our Founding Fathers set out in the US Constitution.

  27. There are real crazy Christians out there with lots of money and following that would love to start some kind of holy war with Islam. Why? I couldn’t tell you—their just nuts. And there are as we all know crazy Islamists out there that are attempting to start some kind of holy war with Christians. Why? I couldn’t really tell you—their just nuts. So the best thing to do is to keep all religion down by law. And best way to implement that is to allow all religion to flourish without any special treatment under the law. Our First Amendment has worked really well. The government needs to go back to before 1952. No 501C special non profit tax status for religion, and “no under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to the United State of America. Religion is a personal thing, and the government should stay out of it completely.

  28. A Muslim president? So he’s bowing on his pray mat to Mecca 4 times a day and then goes to a christian church? A Muslim president that directs the military to kill other Muslims world wide? A Muslim president that says christian prayers publicly? Miss Happ , what kind of stupid fok are you? Hopefully you don’t have children…

  29. Discrimination based on religion has been around since the colonies were established. Parishioners were taxed if they went to another church in another area. Christians discriminated against other Christians to the point of killing. Quakers were sentenced to death at one point. George Mason and Thomas Jefferson lobbied in Virginia for the nations first religious liberty statute.

  30. USAF Academy had a terrible institutional program of harassment and conversion pressure of non-Christians, even against non-fundamentalist Christians. After years of these reports the problem was remedied. Or was it? Now it seems to be an endemic problem in USAF. Only swearing in Christian Crusaders will be a great recruitment issue for ISIL and other radical non-Xian religionists

  31. It’s attitude like that which has our nation in the condition it’s in. Religion includes every religion. Even that of our President! The ones cause a problem in our country is not our President it is the fools trying to control us, that would be the Republicans! In case you haven’t notice they want to dictate what women can do with their bodies. How people should vote (I wonder how that should be). They are trying to control the American people. Time to put the blame where it belongs. The Republican need to get out of our capital and out of our lives!

  32. Besides the fact that the bullies of the religious right are NOT Christians in any sense of the word, the Constitution absolutely forbids forcing any kind of religious test for a federal job. Didn’t you even READ the article? You certainly haven’t read the Constitution!

    No one is waging war on these so-called Chistrians. They are waging war on everyone else.

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