AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Air Force Academy cadets are no longer required to say “so help me God” at the end of the Honor Oath.
School officials said Friday the words were
made optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom
Foundation, an advocacy group.
Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson says the change was made to respect cadets’ freedom of religion.
The oath states, “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.”
Cadets are required to take the oath once,
when they formally enter the school as freshmen after boot camp, academy
spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal said.
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the
Military Religious Freedom Foundation, welcomed the change but
questioned how it will be applied.
If the commander leading the oath includes the
words, cadets who choose not to say them might feel vulnerable to
criticism, he said.
“What does it mean, ‘optional’?” Weinstein said. “The best thing is to eliminate it.”
Academy officials did not immediately return a follow-up call seeking comment on Weinstein’s question.
The West Point equivalent oath does not
include the words “so help me God,” said Frank DeMaro, a school
spokesman. It states, “A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate
those who do.”
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