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Freedom is doing what you’re told

Sometimes the stupid is too grating to bear. On October 25th the Air Force Academy made a decision to allow cadets taking their honor code to opt out of saying “so help me God” at the end of the oath. Well I should hope so – it’s a federal institution, so obviously it shouldn’t be requiring employees to swear an oath to a god. But two Texas Congressional Representatives want to put a stop to it – they want the federal government to force people to swear an oath to a god.

Republicans Sam Johnson of Plano and Pete Olson of Sugar Land introduced a bill last week to require Congressional approval before any changes may be made to oaths to enlist in the Armed Forces.

Their legislation comes on the heels of a decision by the Air Force Academy on Oct. 25 to allow cadets taking their honor code to opt out of saying “so help me God” at the end of the oath.

Olson, a former Navy pilot, said military personnel who undergo stressful training to prepare for protecting the nation should be allowed to exercise their religious freedoms.

That last item is the part that’s too stupid to bear. Allowing people to exercise their religious freedoms would be making the oath to god optional, not keeping it mandatory. The Air Force Academy decision was to allow people to opt out, not to forbid people. Opting out is freedom; not allowing opting out is not freedom.

Jeezis. There should be a “can you think?” test before people can run for Congress.

Johnson spent seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, during which time he said he found strength in God.

“I can tell you from experience, there are no atheists in foxholes,” Johnson said in a statement. “Many people don’t know this but when you survive a near-death experience you realize that the only thing you had to hold on to was your faith in God.”

And yet – notice that that has nothing to do with swearing an oath to god because told to by the Air Force Academy in the name of the US government. Nothing at all. It’s laughably easy to believe in a god who thinks oaths are a bit of petty human bossiness and an insult to god.

According to Religion News Service, the Air Force changed the oath after the New Mexico-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained about the presence of religion in the military. The group says Christianity is given a higher pedestal at the Air Force Academy and has been critical of its use in official military practices.

Other military academies do not use the word “God.”

“It’s not only my experience, but that of my fellow POWs, veterans, and those currently in harm’s way that make ‘so help me God’ vital to the oath,” Johnson said.  “I urge my colleagues to join this effort to protect the legacy of freedom of religion.”

Has he picked a fight with the army, the navy, and the marines, yet?

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Many people don’t know this but when you survive a near-death experience you realize that the only thing you had to hold on to was your faith in God

    Citation needed.

    At 15, my sister and I barely survived an electrocution while swimming, and our father didn’t survive it.

    At not one single moment in that experience, nor all the time after it, did I ever think “Well, I’d feel better about this if I believed in an omnimpotent rat-bastard of a sky-wizard who was letting it happen because mysterious ways, that’d sure make up for my father being killed and me barely escaping, yep.”

    Not once.

  2. Kevin Henderson says

    My state of birth has no end to the embarrassment it brings me.

    Disrespectful, impolite, and unethical. That is the outcome of any request that one human makes on another when asked to pray or honor something another does not believe.

    Insecure, arrogant, and prejudice. That is the logical conclusion that I make of people who request such nonsense. It is not as if I want to dislike anyone, but they make it not only easy but rationally justified.

    As far as being saved as a POW…surely Johnson knew other people in Vietnam who did not return who were good persons, possibly even Christians. His reasoning that god chooses him over them is disturbing and makes me sick. What a genuine POS.

  3. iknklast says

    Many people don’t know this but when you survive a near-death experience you realize that the only thing you had to hold on to was your faith in God

    I survived a near-death experience (I don’t like that term; it has bad connotations of pseudoscience). And it was particularly painful, because it was an asthma attack. Turning blue, not being able to breathe, I still didn’t turn to god(s). The only thing I had to hold on to was my husband’s hand, and it was much more substantial than any faith in an imaginary being. The only one who saved me was my doctor and his nurses, all of whom spent two hours attending to me until I was not only able to breathe properly again, but they felt reasonably confident I wouldn’t relapse as soon as I went home. It would be disgusting of me to dilute their efforts by attributing this to any deity, even FSM.

  4. Jessie says

    Many people don’t know this but when you survive a near-death experience you realize that the only thing you had to hold on to was your faith in God.

    Nope, my survival is entirely down to doctors and science.

  5. freemage says

    How many Air Force airmen* are sitting around in foxholes, anyway?

    *: This was the only generic term for ‘members of the Air Force’ I could find–why am I not surprised that the most theocratic branch of the military is also the only one that doesn’t have a common-use non-gendered term for their members (as opposed to ‘marines, soldiers, sailors’)?

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