On September 17 Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James issued a statement saying Airmen who enlist or reenlist in the Air Force are no longer required to say “so help me God” as part of their oath.
The Huffington Post reports the changes are “effective immediately.”
On September 11 USA Today reported that the American Humanist Association had come alongside an atheist Airman who complained over having to say “so help me God” in order to reenlist. The Airman pointed out that the Navy and Army both give enlistees the option of saying “so help me God” or not.
A Pentagon official weighed in, saying the Air Force “is wrong” and there is “no federal requirement to say ‘so help me God’ in any federal oath or affirmation by a person taking the oath.”
The American Humanist Association told the Air Force it had until September 19 to change the requirement or face a lawsuit.
In the September 17 statement changing the requirement, Secretary James said: “We take any instance in which Airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously. We are making the appropriate adjustments to be sure our Airmen’s rights are protected.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at email@example.com.