Liberty can't be maintained without God

Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 04:38 PM.

The oath states: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office about which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

As an active-duty and retired Marine, I have repeated the above oath of office either myself or offered it to a Marine or sailor I was promoting nearly 100 times I would guess. So often, in fact, did I repeat these oaths that I have them still memorized even today more than a decade since retiring from the Marine Corps.

These oaths are uttered hundreds of times every day across America by service members. Though probably uttered somewhat matter-of-factly by most, the oaths nonetheless play an important role in redefining responsibilities, securing liberty (the focus being on the Constitution and NOT on an individual human), and helping those who utter the oath recall that the burden they bear can’t be borne without help, predominately from a higher power: “So help me God.”

It has been said that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. Not necessarily at the U.S. Air Force Academy, though, where burdens of command and honesty may need no help from a higher power. The academy, as reported in the Houston Chronicle and other periodicals and websites, last week bowed to criticism from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a New Mexico-based watchdog organization headed by attorney Michael Weinstein.

Weinstein complained that the academy’s honor code that stated, “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God” was too religious.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Weinstein is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and has been vocal in his criticism, the Chronicle reported, of overt religiosity — specifically Christianity — at the academy. As a graduate of the academy, he certainly has a right to offer his criticisms, regardless of how misguided they may be.

As a result of his complaints though, the academy has made God optional. Cadets may omit “so help me God” in the oath. Also in the spirit of full disclosure, the Air Force Academy was the only service academy that ended their oaths asking God for help.

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