Following a complaint by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado on Friday decided to make the phrase “so help me God” optional when cadets recite the Honor Oath.
The part of the Cadet Honor Oath in question has cadets swear that they will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those who do, according to Fox News 21 in Colorado Springs.
“We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God,” the oath states.
The foundation claims the oath violates the Constitution.
The Air Force says the decision to make the phrase optional is part of a policy of religious and cultural tolerance.
“Here at the Academy, we work to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, Airmen and civilian Airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference – or not.” Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Academy Superintendent, told Fox News. “So, in the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the Honor Oath with ‘So help me God.’”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was established in 2005 for the purpose of opposing evangelical Christians in positions of power within the military. The organization’s founder, Michael Weinstein, has described targets of the foundation as “a small subset of evangelical Christianity that’s called premilliennial, dispensational, reconstructionist, dominionist, fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity or just Dominionist Christianity.”
Mr. Weinstein characterizes evangelical Christians in the military as “incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”