The U.S. Air Force reversed course today, deciding that you really don’t have to believe in God to hop aboard a plane and drop bombs on bad guys.
Specifically, the Air Force decided that, going forward, airmen will be allowed to omit the words “So help me God” from their oath.
OMIGOD! Now that I’ve heard this, so help me God, I want to . . .
Crack open a beer and celebrate. The Air Force got it right.
Let’s back up a bit. All of this came about because it was revealed last week in the Air Force Times that an unnamed airman at the Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was told he would not be allowed to re-enlist if he did not recite the words “so help me God” at the conclusion of his oath.
Let’s read that over again, slowly this time . . .
An unnamed airman (He’s our kind of guy, a red-white-and-blue American boy who volunteered to serve in the U.S. Military) . . .
was told he would not be allowed to re-enlist (WHAT??? What did he do? Did he beat up his girlfriend in an elevator or something?) . . .
if he did not recite the words “so help me God” at the conclusion of his oath (That’s IT???? Isn’t that, like, his First Amendment right?).
Yeah. That’s it. The U.S. Air Force maintained, until today, that unless the atheist airman affirmed his belief in God, he would not be permitted to re-enlist. Because, apparently, if there’s one thing we won’t stand for when we’re bombing Islamic militants in the Middle East, it’s atheists in our cockpits.
Think about that for a minute. Just last week, the president of the United States told us that we’re engaged in a protracted battle with ISIS, or ISIL, as he likes to call it, and we’re not going to put ANY BOOTS ON THE GROUND, because that didn’t work out so well the last time and we’re really, really tired of seeing our kids come home maimed or dead, and that means were going to put our BOOTS IN THE AIR instead this time, and when we spot those ISIS creeps gallivanting around the Levant, whipping women, killing Christians and decapitating American journalists, we’re going to peer down from 30,000 or so feet up in the air, push a button and send them off to an early rendezvous with their 72 virgins.
Sounds like a good plan to me.
And I’m guessing it sounded like a good plan to that unnamed atheist airman at Creech, too, since he wanted to re-enlist in the U.S. Air Force.
Only the Air Force said no. Or, more specifically, it said:
“The airman’s term of service expires in November 2014. He has until this time to complete the Department of Defense Form 4 in compliance with the Title 10 USC 502.”
They talk that way in the Air Force.
The person who wrote that was Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson, in a Sept. 5 email to the American Humanist Association, which threatened to sue if the Air Force didn’t change its mind.
According the the Air Force Times:
The four-page DD Form 4, which is titled “Enlistment/Reenlistment Document, Armed Forces of the United States,” contains a “confirmation of enlistment or reenlistment” oath that reads, “I, [insert name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God” ….
The Air Force said it cannot change its [Air Force Instruction] to make “so help me God” optional unless Congress changes the statute mandating the oath.
But that was sooooo last week. Today, the Air Force officially changed its position without even taking it to Congress, issuing a press release in which it essentially said it actually was possible to defend the Constitution and stuff even if you don’t believe in God. Or more specifically:
The Air Force will be updating the instructions for both enlisted and commissioned Airmen to reflect these changes in the coming weeks, but the policy change is effective now. Airmen who choose to omit the words ‘So help me God’ from enlistment and officer appointment oaths may do so.
And that, folks, is the end of that. At least, I hope it is.
Look, I know there are some people – maybe a lot of people – in this country who have serious issues with atheists. I’ve never really understood why – if they’re so confident there’s a God, why should it bother them that there are others who don’t share that confidence? But they can’t deny that they’re there, and they can’t deprive them of the rights – all the rights – of citizenship.
It’s been established over and over again that atheists have the same First Amendment rights as others. And that, contrary to what many believe, means that Freedom of Religion does, indeed, mean Freedom FROM Religion. It means you believe what you want, I’ll believe what I want – and some won’t believe at all.
And maybe, just maybe, we can all learn to accept that. Maybe we can learn to respect each other’s differences, go to the house of worship of our choice, or not go at all, and get together for a rousing game of softball at the end of the day. I’ll bring a six-pack.
But if you really can’t abide atheists in your midst – and if you really think they should not be allowed to enlist in our Armed Forces and serve our country – I urge you to look at today’s announcement on the bright side . . .
If that guy’s plane ever goes down, he won’t have a prayer.