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.
Consequently, Weinstein’s criticisms — even the Air Force’s politically-correct response to them — wouldn’t be very newsworthy were it not for the bigger picture of religion in our national psyche, or rather, the assault on and removal of religion from our national psyche. The old adage of “death by a thousand cuts” applies to this issue. Chipping away at God. The goal? Ending him.
The thinly-veiled mission of Weinstein’s Foundation states that it is, “… dedicated to Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom.” While this sounds very positive and “American,” reading more deeply into his foundation’s mission we can see what Weinstein really wants is the erasure of any vestige of God from the military.
While I pity those who do not, cannot, or will not consult and give credit to a higher power to whom challenges and dilemmas may be taken and from whom fortitude and wisdom may be granted, my lamentations go far beyond the academy and Weinstein. My concern is — indeed what the concern of all Americans should be — the danger to our Republic from ending God.
American liberty cannot be maintained without God, especially in our military. Why? It is the one American institution with the mission to defend our liberty and the concurrent power to end it. If liberty comes from God, then it can’t be taken by man.
Just as he forced a change to the academy’s honor code, if Weinstein has his way the military oath of office will be changed to deny the need for God’s help in conducting a military officer’s duties and responsibilities — duties and responsibilities too burdensome and potentially impactful to Americans’ liberty to be borne by man alone. If Weinstein succeeds, another chink in America’s liberty armor will have been hammered.
According to the National Center for Constitutional Studies and more than 150 volumes of our Founding Fathers’ writings, the following principles must be sustained to secure our liberty: one, without religion the government of a free people cannot be maintained; two, to protect man’s rights, God has revealed certain principles of divine law; and three, the God-given right to govern is vested in the sovereign authority of the whole people.
Ordained by God can be removed only by God. So help me God.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.