WASHINGTON, D.C. – Openly Secular, a coalition comprised of more than two dozen secular organizations across the country, today issued a statement responding to the Air Force’s denial of re-enlistment to an atheist airman who refused to include the term, “so help me god” in his oath.
“There is no place for discrimination in America against anyone, let alone the brave men and women of our military who are risking their lives to protect our rights. We call on the Air Force to immediately grant this airman re-enlistment and for U.S. military to change the language in the oath so that everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, can serve in the military,” said Todd Stiefel, the chair of Openly Secular. “American patriots come from a spectrum of religious beliefs, including none at all. There are atheists in foxholes, and they deserve the respect and admiration of their command structure and the nation they are fighting for.”
The unnamed airman was told last month that the Air Force would not accept his contract because he had crossed out the phrase. He was then told his only option was to sign the contract without adjustment or leave the Air Force.
“The Air Force’s response is not only unfair to the airman, it is also a violation of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution which ensures people of all religions (or no religion) can serve their country equally,” Stiefel continued.
Openly Secular joins its partner, American Humanist Association, in calling for a secular alternative to the oath.