American Atheists supports this decision and sees this as a step in the right direction, but separation of religion and government still has a long way to go.
The Air Force Academy should take out the “god” part altogether, and/or make it optional for those cadets who opt *in.* Under a secular military system, the default reading should not include superstitious references, and the oath should not be taken with the inclusion of them, unless individual cadets choose to include such a reference for personal religious reasons on a case-by-case basis.
This is about equality. In the same way that no religious person would want to feel pressured to swear by a god they don’t believe in, atheists do not want to feel pressured to swear by a god, either. Removing the reference to a god, which should not have been included in the first place—just as it is not included in the Constitutional Oath of Office for President—is the most reasonable, fair, just, and equal action. Even by making the wording technically “optional,” there exist social pressures within a tightly knit class of cadets that reinforce group bonding and discourage going against the tide. The default position of any government activity should always be secular. If religious cadets individually want to invoke their god during their oaths, we agree with their recognizing their right to do so, but including this in the official wording is inappropriate and an abuse of authority.
For Christians, this should be a no-brainer anyway. The New Testament is unambiguous about not swearing upon anything, but rather just doing what one says they’re going to do:
Matthew 5:33-37: “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from evil.” (New International Version)
James 5:12: Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned. (New International Version)
Read the announcement from the Air Force Times here: http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20131025/NEWS/310230013/Academy-makes-God-optional-cadets-oath
Additionally, American Atheists Public Relations Director Dave Muscato debated this subject on a panel with Bill Donahue of the Catholic League and Rabbi Aryeh Spero on Fox News on Gretchen Carlson’s show, “The Real Story” yesterday:
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