Capital Briefs

Chaplains to Air Force Academy: Obey the law on oaths

WASHINGTON — The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is receiving calls from concerned parents of Air Force Academy cadets about the Academy’s removal of the phrase “So help me God” from the Cadet Oath, the Officer Oath, and the Enlisted Oath in the Academy Contrails Cadet Handbook.

“The removal of this phrase is a disservice to the countless men and women who wish to include it as a solemn reminder that they are pledging their fidelity to God and their country,” said Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USAR retired, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. “This phrase is a deeply rooted American tradition which George Washington began as the first president of the United States, and many who take an oath of service to our country still state it.”

Crews explained that the Chaplain Alliance is calling on Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson and the Air Force to explain why it removed the phrase from many of its oaths and also explain why it removed a poster portraying the words of the Academy Honor Oath, which ended with the same phrase.

“We respectfully request that Lt. Gen. Johnson bring the Air Force Academy oaths into line with the law. While we respect the right of any cadet to not say ‘So help me God,’ the law requires that the words remain part of the oath. Cadets who come from faith backgrounds should be supported in solemnizing their oath with the words that generations of officers before them have used.”

“We commend Congressman Jim Birdenstine and his many colleagues in the House for their leadership in investigating this issue,” Crews added regarding a Nov. 18 letter to Johnson. “We thank them for urging the Academy to ensure its oaths reflect the original statutory language in full and to support those cadets who wish to include “So help me God” in their administration of the oath.”

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty is an organization of chaplain endorsers, the faith groups that provide chaplains for the U.S. military and other agencies needing chaplains. The endorsers in the Chaplain Alliance speak for more than 2600 chaplains serving the armed forces.

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