Obama’s AFA Oath Omissions The End Run on Faith in the Military

Posted on Thu 10/31/2013 by


By Mark Alexander~

“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” –George Washington’s General Orders (1775)

Officer's Commissioning Bible

Officer’s Commissioning Bible

Editor’s Note: This column is a substantial update on The Patriot Digest report last week regarding the Obama administration’s effort to remove “So help me God” from all military oaths.

I began this week as I usually do, with a Monday morning visit to my 90-year-old father, a retired naval aviator and member of the Greatest Generation. He’s always interested in current events, especially the latest on what he accurately labels “Obama’s socialist effort to nationalize healthcare.”

In a discussion with him about my column topic, the real story behind an effort to remove “So help me God” from an oath at the Air Force Academy, he smiled and said, “I have something for you.” He disappeared for a minute and returned with a small pocket Bible, which was presented to him at his naval commissioning ceremony 70 years ago. He had come across this little New Testament while cleaning out a drawer, and he set it aside knowing I would appreciate it.

And appreciate it I do.

On a dedication page prior to the title page, there was a printed inscription from Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“As Commander-in-Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.”


This past weekend, you may have heard news reports about the Air Force Academy being pressured to remove “So help me God” from its Cadet Honor Oath.

What you have not heard is that on the page facing the Honor Oath in “Contrails,” the Academy’s official handbook, “So help me God” has already been removed from the more important Cadet and Officer oaths. (Click to View)

As I first reported last May in “Obama’s Frontal Assault on Faith,” until 2011, the AFA handbook contained “So help me God” in bold letters after the Cadet and Officer oaths. However, under the watch of former AFA Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould (who retired in July 2013), those words were removed from the Class of 2015 handbooks, and are absent in all subsequent year editions of Contrails. (Last we checked, the cadet and officer oaths at the Naval Academy and West Point had not been altered.)

In 2012, when I asked the AFA’s Public Affairs Office who had ordered the removal and why, the PAO dodged the question for two days, then on the third request responded tersely that I could file a “Freedom of Information Act” request if I wanted to know anything more. In other words: “Take a hike.” (An FOIA for all communications related to this omission is being processed.)

The current challenge to the Cadet Honor Oath wording was filed by ultra-leftist Michael Weinstein by way of his so-called “Military Religious Freedom Foundation” (MRFF). Ostensibly, Weinstein’s objection relates to a complaint about a poster that listed the Cadet Honor Oath with its closing words, “So help me God.”

But Weinstein’s target is much bigger than the AFA Honor Oath. Read on…

Weinstein, who was tapped by Obama earlier this year to “consult” with DoD on faith expression in the military, is little more than a proxy for the Obama regime, a surrogate doing the bidding of the most faith-intolerant administration in the history of our Republic. According to the Washington Post, Weinstein claimed that Christian “proselytizing” is a “national security threat,” adding, “What is happening is a spiritual rape. … It is sedition and treason. It should be punished.” 1.

Of course, if any military officer publicly suggested that this all-out attack on religious faith was part of his commander in chief’s agenda, they would face a court-martial. However, off the record, I have spoken to many command-level officers who believe this is precisely Obama’s aim.

Weinstein, himself an AFA graduate (Class of ‘77), and author of “One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military,” has been an enemy of public faith expression for his whole career.

He first sued the Air Force in 2005 for failing to prevent “religious proselytizing,” claiming:

“What you’ve got is a lusty and thriving religious intolerance that is objectively manifesting itself in prejudice and discrimination and is obliterating the First Amendment, civil rights and the US Constitution. There are senior people that view evangelical Christianity at the Air Force Academy the way that you and I would view gravity. Pick up a pen and drop it and it falls on the desk. Well, it just exists, it’s gravity.”

But U.S. District Judge James Parker dismissed the case, noting:

“No Plaintiff claims to have personally experienced any of the things described under ‘Factual Allegations’ … while at the Academy or after leaving the Academy. Not a single Plaintiff has alleged any personal factual situation that has allegedly impinged on that Plaintiff’s constitutional rights since the Plaintiff left the Academy.”

PP_4thClassKnowledge_2013-10-31-254078ba_mediumWeinstein got little traction for his faith persecutions until Obama’s election in 2008, which paved the way for him to become the primary nemesis of faith expression in the military.

Within a month of Obama’s inauguration in 2009, Weinstein met with Air Force Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz, who was confirmed by the Democrat-controlled Senate on August 12, 2008 (and served until August 10, 2012, when he was replaced by Gen. Mark A. Welsh). Weinstein said that Schwartz “acknowledged that there [was] a problem” regarding religious freedom in the military.

To get a sense of the depth of Weinstein’s hatred of our military’s faith traditions, later in 2009 he blamed the Fort Hood massacre by Islamist Nidal Malik Hasan on proselytizing by “fundamentalist Christians.”

In 2010, the year “So help me God” was removed from the AFA Officer and Cadet oaths, Weinstein said he had developed a cozy relationship with then-AFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould. Weinstein claimed he and Gould devised a secret codeword to ensure he could have quick access to Gould at any time. “We have our own bat-signal,” he boasted. (For the record, I have met Mike Gould through several national security briefings and would have a difficult time believing that he and Weinstein were in collusion.)

That was also the year Weinstein applauded Obama’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which significantly constrained any religious views to the contrary. 2.

In 2011, Weinstein demanded and received an apology from AFA Commandant of Cadets Brig. Gen. Richard Clark for authorizing cadet support of “Operation Christmas Child,” which assembles and fills millions of shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and other gifts for impoverished children in 130 countries. Weinstein objected because OCC places a Christian tract in those boxes.

In 2012, Weinstein pressed the Pentagon to end the sale of military-themed Holman Christian Standard Bibles, claiming they were a “national security threat.”

Clearly, Weinstein and the MRFF are dedicated to freedom from religion, not our constitutionally enshrined freedom of religion.

So, what is the Obama/MRFF strategy at the Air Force Academy?

Given that AFA administrators have already removed “So help me God” from the cadet and officer oaths in 2011 – for reasons the AFA will not disclose – if Weinstein pursues legal action, it will be difficult for the AFA to argue for retaining “So help me God” in any oath. And, if Weinstein “wins” a legal challenge against the AFA, he will undoubtedly pursue “domino effect” rulings to amending oaths in the other Service Academies – which will inevitably cascade throughout the service branches.

My colleague, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William “Jerry” Boykin, says of the administration’s effort to oppress religious expression, “The very troops who defend our religious freedom are at risk of having their own taken away. The worst thing we can do is stop Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, especially the chaplains, from the free exercise of their faith.”

At present, AFA leadership is attempting to sidestep Weinstein’s complaint by suggesting the inclusion of “So help me God” in the Honor Code will be voluntary. Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Academy Superintendent, stated:

“We work to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, Airmen and civilian Airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference – or not. So, in the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the Honor Oath with ‘So help me God.’”

But Weinstein is not content with that solution, and responded:

“The Air Force Academy is a constitutional train wreck when it comes to religious rights and freedoms. We wouldn’t trust them to get the word out on an organizational picnic, much less something of this magnitude. [Tying the oath] to a religious test violates the no-establishment clause of the Constitution.”

PP_NewTestament_2013-10-31-b32df1fdBut the fact is, “So help me God” is already elective in all military and civilian oaths. While 5 U.S.C. § 3331 specifies the inclusion of those words, it is understood that this inclusion is subordinate to our Constitution’s Article VI prohibition of any religious test for public office. However, it is no longer elective in the AFA Cadet and Officer oaths because the words have already been omitted!

Dr. Hans Mueh (Brig. Gen., Ret.), who was tasked in 1984 with formulating the Honor Oath, said, “To add more seriousness to the oath, we decided to mirror the commissioning oath and add the words, ‘so help me, God.’” But again, the words have already been omitted!

However, according to the most recent Air Force Instruction issued by the Secretary of the Air Force, section 1.4. Oath, subsection 1.4.1 Enlistment Oath and 1.4.2 Oath of Office (Commissioning Oath) both specify “So help me God.” Further, the SecAF orders, “Compliance with this publication is mandatory.”

At best, the AFA is not in compliance with the SecAF’s mandate regarding oaths, and any military officers who approved the oath alterations are likely subject to prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 92 (IX), “Violation of a Lawful General Regulation/Order.”

At worst, somebody has provided Weinstein with a layup, a legal “gimme,” which he can ultimately parlay into the removal of “So help me God” from every military oath.

So the question remains, who ordered the removal of “So help me God” from the 2011 cadet handbook, and why?

The Patriot is pursuing an answer to that question – and we will not back off until we get the truth.

Obama’s surrogates may attempt to pin blame on a committee of AFA officers and cadets that reviews Contrails each year for any minor changes to protocol or training, but there is little chance that a major change such as the altering of the officer and cadet oaths would have been the work of this committee – or that the PAO would have deferred to an FOIA – or that AFA leadership would be addressing “So help me God” in the Honor Oath without noticing its absence in the Officer and Cadet oaths.

Frankly, AFA leadership may have been waiting – and hoping – for a third-party objection in order to avoid rebuke from their CINC. If so, their wait is over.

In the meantime, Obama and his Leftist cadres should heed this formative advice from President George Washington: “Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths…”

1. (Under the pretense of “religious tolerance,” Barack Obama’s administration has been quietly advancing his mandate to remove all expression or manifestation of faith, particularly Christianity, from government forums – first and foremost, the U.S. military, where he has the most direct authority. His civilian “leaders” at DoD have ramped up that eradication, even threatening UCMJ charges against military personnel whose expression of faith might be interpreted as “proselytizing.” Eradicating references to God in military oaths is part of Left’s larger objective to replace Rule of Law with the rule of men – because the former is predicated on the principle of Liberty “endowed by our Creator.” Obama’s administrators constantly look for ways to undermine Rule of Law by driving wedges between our Liberty and its inherent foundational endowment.)

2. (One of Obama’s earliest campaign promises was to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” proscription against open homosexuality in the military ranks. On December 22, 2010, Obama signed that repeal after it had been passed by his outgoing NeoCom House majority and seconded by his Demo-controlled Senate, just weeks before Tea Party Republicans, who decimated the Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections, took over the House. At the signing, Obama declared, “This law will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.”)

Read more excellent articles at The Patriot Post