AFA: ‘God’ Already Gone
Weinstein’s Target Is NOT the Honor Code
Getting it partially right, Fox News reported this week that the Air Force Academy is under pressure to removed “so help me God” from its Cadet Honor Oath. However, on the facing page in Contrails, the Academy’s official handbook, “so help me God” has already been removed from the Cadet and Officer oaths. (Click to View)
As first reported by Mark Alexander last May in “Obama’s Frontal Assault on Faith,” until 2011, the AFA handbook contained the words “so help me God” in bold letters after the Cadet and Officer oaths. However, under the tenure of AFA Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, those words were removed from the Class of 2015 handbooks, and are absent in all subsequent year editions of Contrails. (Last we checked, the cadet and officer oaths at the Naval Academy and West Point have not been altered.)
In 2012, when Alexander first asked the AFA’s Public Affairs Office who had ordered the removal and why, the PAO dodged the question for two days, then on the third request responded tersely that Alexander could file a “Freedom of Information Act” request. In other words: “Take a hike.” (Alexander is now in the process of filing an FOIA for all communications related to this omission.)
This week, Barack Obama’s top military appointees at the AFA claimed that their review of the remaining instance of “so help me God” in the Cadet Honor Oath, is the result of a challenge by ultra-leftist Mikey Weinstein’s so-called “Military Religious Freedom Foundation” (MRFF). In fact, Weinstein, who was tapped by Obama earlier this year to “consult” with DoD on faith expression in the military, is little more than a proxy for the Obama administration. He is a surrogate doing the bidding of the most faith-intolerant regime in the history of our Republic.*
Of course, if any military officer publicly suggested this was their CINC’s agenda, they would face a court-martial. However, off the record, Alexander has spoken to many senior officers who believe this is precisely Obama’s agenda.
What is the Obama/MRFF strategy in this case? Given that AFA administrators have already removed “so help me God” from the Cadet and Officer Oaths, if Weinstein pursues legal action, it will be difficult for the AFA to argue for retaining “so help me God” in any oath. And, if Weinstein “wins” a legal challenge against the AFA, he will undoubtedly pursue “domino effect” rulings to amending oaths in the other Service Academies – and by extension throughout the Service Branches. Weinstein’s target is much bigger than the AFA Honor Oath.
At present, AFA leadership is attempting to side step Weinstein’s complaint by suggesting the inclusion of “so help me God” in the Honor Code will be voluntary. “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,” said Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Academy Superintendent. “So, in the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the Honor Oath with ‘So help me God.’”
But the fact is, “so help me God” is already elective. While 5 U.S.C. § 3331 specifies the inclusion of “so help me God” for both military and civilian oaths, it is understood that these words are elective under our Constitution’s Article VI prohibition of any religious test for public office. However, it is no longer elective in the AFA Cadet and Officer oaths because the words have been removed!
Moreover, according to the most recent Air Force Instruction issued by the Secretary of the Air Force, section 1.4. Oath, subsection 1.4.1. Enlistment Oath and 1.4.2. Oath of Office (Commissioning Oath) both specify “So help me God.” Further, the SecAF orders “Compliance with this publication is mandatory.”
Dr. Hans Mueh (Brig. Gen., Ret.), who was tasked with formulating the Honor oath in 1984, “To add more seriousness to the oath, we decided to mirror the commissioning oath and add the words, ‘so help me, God.’” But there is nothing there to mirror now!
At best, the AFA is not in compliance with the SecAF’s mandate regarding oaths, and any military officer(s) who approved the oath alterations could be subject to prosecution under UCMJ Articles 90 and 92. At worst, somebody has provided Weinstein with a lay up for a legal “gimme,” which he can ultimately parlay into the removal of “so help me God” from every military oath.
So the question remains, who ordered the removal of “so help me God” from the 2011 Cadet handbook, and why? We are going to demand answers to those questions, and it will be interesting to see if Obama’s appointees attempt to pass this off on a “Cadet committee” or some equally innocent scapegoat.
In the meantime, Obama and his Leftist cadres should heed this formative advice on faith in the military, from an order issued by General George Washington ahead of Valley Forge: “While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” Twenty years later, President Washington wrote, “Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths…”
> Editor’s Note: This column was updated Saturday, 26 October. In his Thursday, 31 October column, Mark Alexander will be providing more details on Michael Weinstein and the Obama/MRFF strategy to remove “so help me God” from all Armed Services oaths.
*(The MRFF is dedicated to freedom from religion, not freedom of religion. In 2011, Weinstein demanded and received an apology from AFA Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, for authorizing cadet support of “Operation Christmas Child,” which assembles and fills millions of shoe boxes with toys, school supplies and other gifts for impoverished children in 130 countries! Weinstein objected because OCC places a Christian tract in those boxes.)
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