Atheist Denied Re-enlistment by U.S. Air Force for Refusing to Say “So Help Me God” In Oath

The graduating class of second lieutenants arrive at the Air Force Academy's Class of 2012 graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado May 23, 2012. Reuters
The graduating class of second lieutenants arrive at the Air Force Academy’s Class of 2012 graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado May 23, 2012. Reuters

Man in the clouds? More like pie in the sky for one atheist airman.

A humanist group is threatening legal action this week after a nonbelieving service member in the U.S. Air Force was allegedly denied reenlistment because he omitted the phrase “so help me God” from his contract.

In a letter to Air Force personnel Tuesday, a legal team that represents the American Humanist Association (AHA) blasted what it called a “violation” of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise clause, citing numerous court decisions that affirm the rights of atheists to avoid references to the supernatural in legal matters. “It is well settled that the government cannot compel a person to take an oath that invokes a supreme being,” Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, wrote. “The Establishment Clause specifically prohibits the government from requiring a non-believer to take an oath that affirms the existence of God.”

The service member, whose name has been redacted from the letter, omitted the theistic reference from his reenlistment contract last month. According to Miller, he claims he was told by his superiors that he must either say the words “so help me God” or leave the Air Force. The AHA, the secular civil rights group that promotes “good without a god,” said it was made aware of the service member’s situation by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. The member is currently stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada.

According to USA Today, the incident has not been confirmed by the Air Force base or the Pentagon. A request to Creech Air Force Base for comment was not immediately returned.

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SOURCE: International Business Times
Christopher Zara