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Air Force to Allow Non-Religious Oath

We’re all used to good work on separation of church and state from groups like Americans United, the ACLU, American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, but the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center has won some big victories lately. Here’s the latest:

Attorneys with the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, working with the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, have sent a letter to administrators at Maxwell AFB in Alabama outlining the reasons a forced statement of god-belief is not constitutional, including numerous court cases upholding the right of those who object to oaths with religious language to take a secular version instead.

“A non-religious person cannot be forced to affirm the existence of a God,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Coordinator Bill Burgess. “The law is clear that such demands violate the constitutional mandate of church-state separation and the right to freedom of conscience. This officer-to-be must be allowed to omit theistic language from his commissioning oath.”…

Update: Air Force officials have agreed to administer a secular oath and to allow a revision of the written oath the Officer Trainee was required to sign to remove the “so help me God” reference. Maj. Stewart L. Roundtree has written attorneys for the American Humanist Association and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers that the entire graduating class will be informed of the option to take a secular oath and apologized for the error. “Our previous legal advisors were mistaken in advising us that it was required,” Maj. Roundtree wrote. “Our current legal advisors made me aware and we will ensure it reaches all corners of our program.”

Excellent work. I don’t know if the Appignani center is something new, but they’re showing up a lot lately and doing really good work. Kudos to the American Humanist Association.

Comments

  1. kantalope says

    “Our previous legal advisors were mistaken in advising us that it was required,”

    I would like to know more about these ‘previous legal advisors’ and their rationale for such crappy advice.

  2. grumpyoldfart says

    the entire graduating class will be informed of the option

    Guess which option will be out in the open and available to everyone and which option will be hidden away in a bottom drawer and hard to find.

    “We’ve got ‘em here somewhere by you might as well just sign the one that’s already on the desk. They say the same thing anyway…”

  3. Michael Heath says

    ‘We the people’ never delegated any authority to the government to create any oaths that reference God. They all should be struck down for that reason and because god-declared oaths are a clear violation of Establishment Clause.

  4. Sickivu says

    Ed,

    Today, Hannah Anderson’s 8 year old brother was identified, dead, burned to death in the fire in which her mother Christina had been found, burned, and shot.

    Hannah has been abducted and no one has seen her in a week.

    I would like to alert you to a truly disgusting, and racist blog post made by Sikivu Hutchinson.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics/2013/08/09/another-white-woman-has-gone-missing/

    In that post, Sikivu Hutchinson, Ph.D., a woman born into a family with two successful, well known authors, decries Hannah as “Privileged victim”.

    This is disgusting. It is racist. It is foul and evil. It of course represents much of what the world has come to expect from Free Thought Blogs.

    Shame on you Ed, and shame on any Free Thought Blogger that does not criticise Sikivu for her racist and highly privileged comments.

  5. matty1 says

    OK Sickivu, I read the link and while I agree the term ‘privileged victim’* was a offensive the rest of the text does not appear to be racist in any way. It is a perfectly reasonable discussion about the media giving disproportionate coverage to white kidnapping victims over others. You might dispute that this happens or that it is a bad thing but merely raising the issue does not make someone racist.

    *Yes I know there are uses of the word privilege that could apply to the victim. As a white girl she had the privilege of her race but put in a sentence about her kidnapping this skirts dangerously close to victim blaming and the very attitude condemned by the rest of the article that people’s suffering should be valued based on their race.

  6. dingojack says

    Concur with Matty1 above with caveats, namely is the person named ‘privileged’ or is the genus of this person named ‘privileged’? and if they are by whom exactly?*
    This is not a distinction that is made by the use of the label alone (as Sickivu does), but the Dr Hutchinson’s post as a whole does make the distinction clear that is the media who are conferring this privilege (by more extensive coverage of issues)..
    On the other hand since news organisations are commercial entities (largely) which are paid for by selling advertising, presumably they will promote issues that are of interest to those consumers. Some 79.98% of Americans are likely to identify as ‘white’ and some 82% would call themselves ‘urban’.
    Dingo
    ——-
    * also is being an individual who could be described as ‘white’ and ‘suburban’ necessarily privileged?

  7. left0ver1under says

    “Our previous legal advisors were mistaken in advising us that it was required,”

    Translated:

    “Our previous legal advisors were mistaken in advising us that we could get away with forcing religion on recruits.”

  8. says

    “Guess which option will be out in the open and available to everyone and which option will be hidden away in a bottom drawer and hard to find.”

    I think that it’s far more likely that it will be something like:

    “Okay, now that we’ve administered the oath to you 93 people, we’ll have the two who have to take the SECULAR OATH do so.”

    Where there’s a will to fuck the out groupers, there’s a way.

  9. says

    “This is disgusting. It is racist. It is foul and evil. It of course represents much of what the world has come to expect from Free Thought Blogs.”

    I know nothing about the article in question but I CAN state to a high degree of certainty that something less than .001 of the population has ever HEARD of FreeThoughtBlogs. Hyperbole in the service of the truth, it doesn’t work most of the time.

  10. says

    @5:

    Now that I’ve taken the time to look at the link I’m wondering; why is the comment you put here not mirrored there?

    Also, are you a sockpuppet?

    I might take exception with her description of the young woman as a “privileged victim”; the rest of the article is pretty much on the money.

    You’re reading like a concern troll.

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