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Very soon, cadets at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, as well as midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, will be marching to one of the happiest events of their lives:  graduation. At USAFA, on the day before the actual stadium graduation, soon-to-be lieutenants literally march out of their squadron formations on the parade field in a “Flying Wedge Formation,” the inverse of how they marched into their squadrons almost four years earlier.  It’s an exceedingly beautiful and emotional sight for parents, faculty, and staff.  Later that day, squadrons hold “commissioning ceremonies.” There are a total of forty squadrons in the Cadet Wing/student body – at which a personally chosen officer administers the oath of office, “swearing them in” as USAF second lieutenants.

The oath of office is well known and traces its heritage to Washington’s oath written for the Continental Army.  Unlike Washington’s oath, however, this oath contains four final words: “So Help Me God”. In practice, these four final words are “optional” for those who may object to adding them – consistent with Article Six of the Constitution, which bans any religious test for public office.

However “optional” those last four words may be, legally speaking, the pressure to say them can be literally overwhelming.  Large cue cards for all oath administrators not only include those words, but they’re also usually highlighted in a bold, all-caps font.  Unless the cadet specifically asks the administrator in advance to omit those jarringly theologically inspired words, they will certainly be said – as sure as the sun sets in the west. This leaves the non-believing cadet the only option of either NOT repeating them – which runs the very real risk of ostracism or being perceived as “disrespecting the administrator” – or stating something that counters their core personal beliefs.

Whether the cadet pre-arranges the omission or just opts not to repeat it, the die is fully cast: ALL in attendance immediately know that the omitting cadet is “different,” publicly proclaiming non-membership in the monotheistic supermajority. In the minds of many, this is tantamount to moral and spiritual inferiority, as well as a lack of the necessary and sufficient religious qualities that America expects of its military leaders.  Having witnessed this abortive pause before, I can tell you that it is terribly chilling. It would be as if someone next to you sat down abruptly DURING the national anthem, specifically ignoring “…and the home of the brave!”

Recently, dozens of USAFA cadets notified the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to express their sharp concern about rumors that each squadron’s commissioning would include “confidential informants” (CIs) to record and report any who choose to omit the “four words.”  Most of those who have reached out to MRFF are practicing Christians themselves, just not of the fundamentalist caliber. These cadets fear that offenders’ names will be passed like black balls at a fraternity induction to future military bases and supervisors through the vast and byzantine network of fundamentalist Christian organizations that illicitly pervade the ranks of the armed forces, e.g., Officers Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministries.  These cadets are legitimately afraid that their careers could be fatally stunted before they even get off the ground – having no recourse because they remain in the dark regarding the identity of the CIs and their contacts.  To be branded as a “not-Christian enough” troublemaker before one even reports to their first duty assignment can have an enormously disheartening impact on these newly-minted, shiny, and (hopefully) idealistic models of the Air Force Core Values of Integrity, Service, and Excellence.

What to do?  Ironically, for the sake of saving one’s face and gaining “moral” or “ethical” legitimacy in the eyes of their peers and superiors, these cadets must lie.  They convince themselves that taking a stance on principal is just not worth it: “How can I serve and change things for the better – for enhanced inclusiveness and true respect – if I can’t even make it to my first assignment without a black mark?  It’s just a little lie.  No one really needs to know my religious views anyway.  They clearly WANT me to lie—look at that cue card.  Do what everyone else is doing… Screw it!”

Our civil rights foundation, MRFF, doesn’t want you to lie – but we understand why you feel like you might have to.  As you’re marching to your graduation parade and look over your shoulder at the “Core Values Ramp,” we don’t want you to start your commissioned service by violating the FIRST of those values (“Integrity”) on your FIRST day as a lieutenant—even if it seems that’s what the Air Force wants you to do.  They’ve made clear, through Air Force Instruction 1-1 and myriad DoD regulations, that it’s improper for commanders to use their power to coerce religious practice or promote a particular religious viewpoint. Nevertheless, now the same officers tasked with enforcing these regulations are unceremoniously breaking them by putting unbearable pressure on you to break your word. The pressure becomes agonizing as its application becomes a public affair. Why not lie then, since your superiors also lied?

Please don’t. You’ll see enough lies, calumny, and disingenuous glad-handing post-graduation and in the course of your service.  You’ll see others use their lies as stepping-stools to even greater and far more perilous lies, as was the case with the falsified nuclear missile launch officer tests and so many other sad instances.  If you do lie, then we beg you to make this your LAST lie.  After graduation, you’re a commissioned military leader.  Rinse yourself of this original sin, and stand up for the Constitution and your fellow airmen.  You may have stained your character by lying once, but if you allow yourself to repeat these lies and make it a habit, you are officially a part of the problem – and that is something that we can’t tolerate.

Why? Well, because it’s not actually merely a “problem”, it’s a national security threat. Thus, we urge you: please don’t.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the six-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated  Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy, and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the “Iran-Contra” Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Defense News named Mikey one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense. He is the author of  “With God On Our Side” (2006, St. Martin’s Press) and  “No Snowflake in an Avalanche” (2012, Vireo).

Originally posted to Mikey Weinstein on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:39 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Military Community Members of Daily Kos, DKos Military Veterans, and Progressive Atheists.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (190+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Radiowalla, ontheleftcoast, DiesIrae, owlbear1, bob152, Mannie, Horace Boothroyd III, slowbutsure, worldlotus, Steven D, notrouble, BMScott, hester, Azazello, MartyM, Jon Sitzman, Mortifyd, Hammerhand, dksbook, The Termite, mikeconwell, zerelda, Ojibwa, jnhobbs, pixxer, ruleoflaw, JeffW, SeaTurtle, thomask, Alumbrados, blueoregon, old wobbly, annieli, on the cusp, leeleedee, jakedog42, Older and Wiser Now, chimpy, Polly Syllabic, leftykook, corncam, bbctooman, CwV, Oaktown Girl, swampyankee, rapala, jan4insight, GeorgeXVIII, SaraBeth, Elizabeth 44, DaNang65, Steveningen, carpunder, wintergreen8694, tommymet, Shotput8, Simplify, YaNevaNo, gizmo59, quill, JDWolverton, BadKitties, midnight lurker, chrismorgan, ArthurPoet, The Marti, thanatokephaloides, Smoh, offred, badscience, BYw, Ginny in CO, theKgirls, PinHole, Ice Blue, roses, funningforrest, artebella, devis1, weck, bloomer 101, Santa Susanna Kid, tofumagoo, Elizaveta, fToRrEeEsSt, whl, Mother Mags, mrsgoo, radical simplicity, Rosaura, terabytes, peachcreek, peacestpete, IndieGuy, tommyfocus2003, pierre9045, mslat27, happymisanthropy, Ahianne, subtropolis, peregrine kate, TLS66, sawgrass727, Emerson, AJayne, kbman, GrannyRedBird, Bluefin, BlueMississippi, YucatanMan, Josiah Bartlett, GoldnI, JanetT in MD, lupinella, prfb, chimene, True North, myrmecia gulosa, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, prettygirlxoxoxo, ER Doc, Jeff Y, HarpboyAK, deepeco, Pat K California, wishingwell, Joe Bacon, Sandino, ladybug53, Byron from Denver, Jeffersonian Democrat, cordgrass, ChuckChuckerson, agnostic, NancyWH, eeff, Friend of the court, TheMeansAreTheEnd, ZedMont, pajoly, Habitat Vic, Carol in San Antonio, sodalis, GreenMother, sc kitty, marleycat, Jay C, dewtx, Loudoun County Dem, Stein, wxorknot, stlsophos, No one gets out alive, edsbrooklyn, ChemBob, kathny, jorogo, doroma, mikidee, HPrefugee, jodylanec, afisher, Simian, PSzymeczek, AR2, lotlizard, Oh Mary Oh, Andrew F Cockburn, SherrieLudwig, Inflection, esco liberal mom, Wolffarmer, cosette, dalef77, SilentBrook, blairhoughton, sendtheasteroid, 2dot, gardnerhill, kfunk937, Ado Annie, CinderMcDonald, beesknees, BeninSC, Iron Spider, penelope pnortney, dewolf99, JerryNA, groupw
  •  Atheism is the fastest growing "religion" (53+ / 0-)

    More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops

    Nationally, the “nones” in the population nearly doubled, to 15 percent in 2008 from 8 percent in 1990. In South Carolina, they more than tripled, to 10 percent from 3 percent. Not all the “nones” are necessarily committed atheists or agnostics, but they make up a pool of potential supporters.
    Atheism is the fastest-growing "religious" group in America
    Washington (CNN) – The fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all, according to a Pew survey showing that one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

    The number of these Americans has grown by 25% just in the past five years, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

    And I've read that they number even a larger percent among the young.

    Before "chapel formation" was declared unconstitutional at the service academies in 1972 I was ordered to attend and I was even ordered by a general in uniform in front of all at Catholic mass to get down on my knees and pray.

    The resurgence of religious intransigents at the Air Force Academy and elsewhere in the military in the last decade is not healthy.  Atheists like Pat Tillman are as instrumental in the defense of the Constitution as anyone else.  The sooner the officer corps gets it the better for everyone.

    The right wing totalitarian Christians have been going all out recently (from Faux News);

    Air Force drops 'So Help Me God' from oaths

    Last month, the Air Force Academy was embroiled in another controversy involving “so help me God” after they decided to make it an optional part of the Honor Oath. The revision was made following a complained from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

    The lawmakers directed Johnson to provide information on why changes were made to the Honor Oath and why a poster bearing the words “so help me God” was removed from the Academy.

    MRFF President Mikey Weinstein had filed a complaint about the poster. Approximately 68 minutes after he complained, Johnson ordered the art work removed. That decision did not set well with lawmakers.
    “We ask that you restore the poster bearing the oath in full to its original location as an honorable reflection of the oath of service,” the lawmakers wrote.

    After the Honor Oath was revised, Johnson released a statement affirming the right of Airmen to “freely practice and exercise their religious preference – or not.”

    “Here at the Academy, we work to build a culture of dignity and respect,” she stated.

    Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said he’s received calls from concerned parents of cadets – lamenting the change in the oaths.

    The fight is on so help me the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Thu May 08, 2014 at 03:51:54 PM PDT

    •  Uh oh, SC better watch out for an enhanced (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, PSzymeczek, Oh Mary Oh

      hurricane season this year:

      In South Carolina, they [atheists] more than tripled, to 10 percent from 3 percent.
    •  Let's find a new word. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PSzymeczek, Shockwave, Oh Mary Oh

      Even in quotes (it's not really a quote at all), atheism is not a religion. I know, it's hard to describe the absence of something, like proving a negative, but to use the one word it specifically is not just makes no sense.

      "All war is stupid" - JFK

      by jorogo on Fri May 09, 2014 at 06:58:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  How about (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jorogo, kfunk937

        philosophy?  That is a fine, understandable, correct word to use.  One may have a philosophy that includes or does not include a higher power or God.  My philosophy includes a just and loving God, but yours may not.

        •  Not really. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Atheism is not a set of beliefs of any sort at all. It's the absence of a deity in one's life. Literally - without theist.

          I particulary avoid having a philosophy (different from philosophical study), because a set pattern of thought or analysis doesn't fit well for all of life's complicated issues, and people who claim to have their own personal philosophy are often just too intellectually lazy to analyze each issue on its own merits.

          Life isn't like math - it just doesn't fit perfectly into such set formulas or descriptions.

          "All war is stupid" - JFK

          by jorogo on Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:16:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  How about... theological position? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jorogo, Shockwave, Yonit

        I know, it sounds marketing buzz-wordy, but it is certainly more accurate. Because being even a basic deist, without any particular religious affiliation, is also a theological position - just as much as being a devout Christian.

        In fact, it would be a good term for surveys, in lieu of the more typical "religious affiliation" phrase.

        Because the fact that atheism is not a religion, is often used by those of faith, to demean it - "Well if you believe in nothing..." It reverts us to that place of, there are religious people, and non-religious people. But something like theological position, or even theological philosophy (to incorporate Sherrie's idea below), specifies that people are stating their belief, disbelief, or qualified level of belief in a higher power, without the same dichotomy.

        •  Not a position, but lack of one, really. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I just had 2 ladies stop by with their bibles earlier today. I spent time with them and we had a lovely discussion. We agreed totally about the need for peace and to end war and stop greed from overwhelming our social and political systems. But it took a very long time for me to get across to them that since humans are mortal and not supernatural, and we're just not capable of accessing knowledge of whether there's a supernatural existence or entity out there, wherever there is, I just don't bother frustrating myself rationalizing just to claim understanding of what I can't possibly perceive or know. Absent any knowledge of or belief in any deity, those who'd label people call me an atheist. Personally, I don't care to label people for one particular aspect of their complex makeup (they said they were o.k. if I'd call them religious ladies), but there it is.

          "All war is stupid" - JFK

          by jorogo on Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:36:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A position that something... (0+ / 0-)

            ...doesn't exist until evidence proves it does, IS a position. That's exactly my point. A theological position, is a position on whether or not god exists, to have a relationship with man - even if that position is, "Not until I have solid evidence he/she/it does."

            Labels have purpose - because if you don't label one door differently to another, you have people at a restaurant walking into the kitchen to pee.

            Labels also make it easier to talk to one another. If a woman asks me on date, and I inform her that I'm heterosexual, it saves both her and I time, in establishing that I am not attracted to women. Labels create a shorthand, that allows us to streamline our communication, and not turn every conversation into a marathon of explanations. If I tell someone I'm a writer, a mother, an atheist or a web administrator, each label allows them to know a several things about me, from just a word or two.

            It is those very labels that help us adequately explain our complexities to others. Without those labels, only people who are simply and uncomplicated, would be worth talking to, because everyone else would never shut up. The trick is to respect a self-affixed label over one assigned by others, AND to not ignore obvious labels out of arbitrary heel-digging. For instance - you just described yourself as an atheist, by definition, so it would be fairly silly to complain about others "labeling" you an atheist.

            Dismissing labels does not reduce stereotypes and gross-generalizations. To combat the latter, you deal with it directly, not attack the label that helps us explain ourselves and others, and adequately communicate with one another. And, of course, never assume that because someone wears one label, it's the only label that applies to them - because that would be foolish. There are hundreds of labels that apply to me - I don't ignore any of them, because some people are stupid enough to think any one of them can define me in total.

        •  As an atheist, I'd be fine with (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          characterizing it as an a-theological position.  Theology's definition implies God, and I don't want to be associated with that, other than acknowledging its absence in my life and my thinking.

          •  Actually, it doesn't. (0+ / 0-)

            Theology is both the study of god, and the study of religious beliefs. Hence a theological position involves - as I pointed out - defining your level of belief OR disbelief in god.

            The word theology traces back to the study of humanity's relationship with god - which completely includes that many members of humanity have NO relationship with god, because they find no reason to validate that any such being exists.

            I am also an atheist, but even I know there is no such thing as "atheology," because that would be the study of humanity's relationship with no god, which makes absolutely no sense.

      •  The opposite of religious is secular, a perfectly (0+ / 0-)

        good and descriptive word.  I've been secular for a long time and nobody can tell by looking at me.  I didn't grow horns and/or a tail or anything.

        •  Excellent!!! (0+ / 0-)

          "Secular" seems like a much less "threatening" word than "atheist".  I shall have to keep it in mind for use in certain situations in future.  THANKS!!  I hadn't even thought about it.

          My gosh, so many people of faith have got it in their heads that being an atheist is a one-size-fits-all category...more specifically, someone who actively disbelieves in God and wants to argue that point...which actually no more applies to atheism than to Christianity (or any other religion.)

          Indeed, I can't tell you how many people of faith who have learned I'm an atheist are absolutely astonished.  

          Besides the fact that they can't wrap their minds around the concept of a simple lack of belief in deities, they can't understand how an atheist could possibly be supportive of someone else's faith.  

          But I have worked with people with serious mental illness for years, and my attitude...which I've expressed countless that, if their faith brings them comfort and helps them on their journey to recovery, then I am 110% in favor of it.  Jeez Louise.  Why on earth wouldn't I be???

          Yet, to these astonished people of faith, it never crossed their minds that an atheist could, much less would have such an attitude.

          Heck, a subset of them even have the attitude that a "God" is required to be a moral person.  To know the difference from right and wrong.  

          Good grief.  The "Golden Rule" predates even the Old Testament by over 1,000 years.  And it's a great rule of thumb.  I mean, what's hard to understand about treating people the way you want to be treated...or, to put it another way, don't treat people the way you do not want to be treated.  It's NOT HARD!!!  And it doesn't require a deity to understand!

          So thanks very much for reminding us that the word "secular" is available for use!

    •  I really do hope that's a good sign for the AFB (6+ / 0-)

      My son rejected a scholarship to the USAFA at Colorado Springs because of the local Focus on the Family group that has moved in and infiltrated.

      The latest scandal last fall concerned the hiring of the former  veep of Focus on the Family who is a practicing 'conversion therapy champion' to to a  USAFA "position in its 'plans and programs directorate' which develops institutional policy, plans and assessment strategies for commanders." (In other words, he believes in reparative therapy to cure 'the gay')      

      If you teach your child only one thing, let it be kindness through example.

      by Nodin on Sat May 10, 2014 at 12:11:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He made the right choice (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        As a USAFA grad, I believe, your son made the right choice.  While I certainly was able to do many things I never would have otherwise, I generally regret having been exposed to the hypocrisy that makes up USAFA and the Air Force in general.

        •  He did make an excellent choice (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shockwave, Yonit

          when MIT and others offered him full or half rides! Our AZ Adjutant General had given him a glowing commendation so USAFA was his first offer.

          If you teach your child only one thing, let it be kindness through example.

          by Nodin on Sat May 10, 2014 at 02:20:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If (0+ / 0-)

            If your son was interested in MIT, the AFA had little to offer outside the scholarship.  There are a few jobs for MIT types, but not many, and one does not exactly get to pick and choose.

            •  It was the first scholarship he was offered (0+ / 0-)

              and the kid didn't think he'd get others. With a 4.6 grade point average and SAT and ACT scores that were nose-bleedingly high.... He was offered the others after those tests and appearing in some book about who's who in high school. I think he was adopted....

              If you teach your child only one thing, let it be kindness through example.

              by Nodin on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:01:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  I have people ask if I believe in God... (6+ / 0-)

      because I refuse to say the part "under God" during the pledge at the beginning of the day at school I teach at. When asked...I tell them America has never been a theology (no matter what the fundamentalist idiots claim) and as an Anabaptist faith is in Jesus...not the United States or any other government.

      Just love it when fundamentalists tell me I'm going to hell. They don't have an answer when I ask them how much they've helped the poor and making the world a better place.

      •  As an atheist, I've often wondered (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        how, for a religious person, taking an oath invoking a deity in support of a secular institution isn't patently offensive to him/her.  If you truly believe in an omnipotent, perfect God, how can invoking that God in support of a flawed, human institution be anything but an insult, and possibly even blasphemous?  It's about magical thinking, not true belief.  It's using God like rubbing a rabbit's foot for luck.

    •  I pray that the brave cadets who reject religions (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MyOwnReality, Shockwave, Yonit

      lie and take the oath and hide their beliefs.  IF someday religious nuts try to use the US army to force their beliefs on our Nation and the World, such cadets MUST be in positions of serious power to stop the nuts.  It is terribly dangerous for all US officers to be religious nuts.  

      •  An atheist (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        (anti-theism) does not believe in any god therefore cannot be defined as a believer of any religion. Only an ignorant person could call atheism a religion.

        It is terribly dangerous for anyone to be a religious nut.

        No country can be both ignorant and free - Thomas Jefferson

        by fjb on Sat May 10, 2014 at 05:32:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Brainwashing (0+ / 0-)

        Military training and life is dominated by brainwashing.  It is very difficult to resist.  Almost all in the US military are dedicated worshipers of Satan, in one guise or another, but most do not realize it.

    •  So, if the Academy (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, Yonit

      truly supports the rights of their Airmen to  "freely practice & exercise their religious beliefs", then I guess they won't have a problem if some Cadets wish to say, "so help me Allah." or "so help me, Vishnu." instead of, "so help me, God."?  Riiight!  Onward, Christian soldiers!

  •  "So help me God" is really a pre-emptive cop-out. (25+ / 0-)

    It means that, if the military person fails to meet his/her obligations, it's because God feel down on the job and didn't help.
    Hedging one's bets and planning for failure is an almost certain route to accomplish just that. Failure is endemic in the culture of obedience--a prerequisite even, if coercive force is to be maintained.

    I've recently come to the hypothesis that because obedience -- i.e. following instructions and imitating successful behavior -- is actually a natural virtue, if obedience is to be coerced, the demands and instructions that are issued have to be irrational. Voluntary compliance is not appreciated because no power and glory accrues to the people in charge. So, if compliance is to be exacted, the demands have to be perverse.
    It's sort of like power, to be felt, having to hurt. A person who does good is powerless. A person who's naturally obedient is not subordinate.
    The culture of obedience is basically antagonistic towards individual liberty.

    by hannah on Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:01:00 PM PDT

  •  I love this diary (12+ / 0-)

    Very unusual and unexpected.

    I suspect DKos may not be the best outlet for reaching its explicit audience, but I don't mind that much.

    Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.

    by The Termite on Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:24:33 PM PDT

    •  DKos is it (5+ / 0-)

      It was also posted in Alternet.

      Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

      by Shockwave on Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:40:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A whole lotta ex-GIs here.... (17+ / 0-)

      ...even tho we're not war-heads like the RWNJs, many here are very concerned about issues that involve our fellow veterans, including the ones who are still "in"...

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Thu May 08, 2014 at 05:35:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ha ha ha War-heads... I love it. Thanks. (0+ / 0-)
      •  Another Vet (0+ / 0-)

        I didn't really care at the time, either.  Said the oath without another thought about the 'God' stuff.

        But now, I do care.

        In between times, I had an experience with God - went to seminary so I could learn something from scholars about God and not just believe the contradictory, silly, sometimes mean-spirited stuff that I was getting from church people.  And the fables [Job, e.g.] and fanciful stories [Creation, e.g.] that were invented as teaching / thinking tools being told as if each and every word is literally true.  This is what passes today for being a 'real christian'.  It's one who puts their faith in their own brain - so proud that they can know it all, understand it all, explain it all, have the same mind as God, etc., etc., etc.

        So NOW I truly care about what I was and millions of others have been coerced to say as part of a solemn oath that the pledging person should fully understand.

        BTW - I have freed myself from the spirit-draining people of the church.  A vanishing few have any true interest in learning - meaning to unlearn that which they are certain about in order to have a fresh take on what has been preserved in their book.  Most only care about having everything they have constructed in their own mind affirmed.

        I'm even more alarmed about what happens to those brave souls who voluntarily commit their lives to the armed forces only to have a corps of christianists squash them.

        "The French have no word for entrepreneur!" G. W. Bush

        by bbuudd on Tue May 13, 2014 at 11:37:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Mike posts diaries on this topic (5+ / 0-)

      a few times a year. His foundation is doing important work, standing as one of the few (the only?) non-profits aggressively combating creeping religious extremism within the ranks of the military.

      As he often notes, it is no accident Dobson's Christian Taliban headquarters are right there by the USAFA.

      The day the fundamentalists get enough cultists in high ranking positions in the military is the day the planned military coup goes in to action under leadership of the dominionists already in office at every level in politics and local law enforcement.

      I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

      by pajoly on Fri May 09, 2014 at 04:54:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Enough is enough (5+ / 0-)

    This has been going on for too long, and a disloyal-to-our-Constitution officer corps has failed to end it.

    The Air Force Academy should be closed.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Thu May 08, 2014 at 04:40:38 PM PDT

    •  No it shouldn't. (13+ / 0-)

      It just needs proper and effective leadership.

      That includes the Big Bosses, the President and the SecDef, who both need to put their feet down and cause a few heads to roll....

      (Did they just assign a woman to be the Commandant of the AF Academy because they're looking for a patsy to blame all this on when it  inevitably blows up?)

      "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

      by leftykook on Thu May 08, 2014 at 05:32:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  *This* academy should be closed. IOW, move it (5+ / 0-)

        out of Dobson's dungeon and the fetid fundie swamps.  Don't put it anywhere in the South or anywhere there is not a huge population of non-Christians - and I don't mean just non-fundies.

        We either are serious about our Constitution or we are not.

        Not that this will ever happen of course.

        •  This is just plain silly. (0+ / 0-)

          It's a helluva lot easier to fire a few people and threaten the rest than it is to uproot a billion dollar facility and move it somewhere else.

          We AREN'T closing the AFA, and we're NOT moving it to Berkeley (however pleasing that might be) so let's get back to some REAL response to this real problem.

          "Ronald Reagan is DEAD! His policies live on but we're doing something about THAT!"

          by leftykook on Fri May 09, 2014 at 08:58:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Berkley? What about any purple or blue area in US? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            snwflk, RichAZ

            Seriously, does it HAVE to be in fundie central? Where you can't swing a cat without hitting these folks?  'Firing a few' folks is meaningless as long as it is deep in the heart of enemy territory.  If you don't think the populace makes a different, come to Texas and drive from Austin to Dallas: see 'progressives' disappear as those who would be get more and more fundie bc that's what everyone else around them is.  This is a well-documented sociological phenom, and the military is not immune.

            I fear the fundie campaign to take over the US military is one of the greatest present danger to the US Constitution extant.  It provides a ready army for the US Taliban to use once they trick enough voters to give them all the branches again.  Bush was a test drive, brought down by incompetence, foolishness and a deeply flawed would be Ceaser.  They will not make that mistake again.

            But even if it were not so, there is nothing sacrosanct about the AFA's location.  Bases are closed and units moved all the time.  Unlike WestPoint and Annie, there is hardly any historical or geographic reason for keeping it where it is.

      •  Assigning a woman to be Commandant to the Af Acade (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Just like General Moters putting the first women at the helm just when they know all hell was about to break lose. Thats the Only time I woman gets promoted to take the flack the men create. I completely believe in separation of church and state! Just like Mike above stated; "I too distrust the people who know so well what God wants, especially when it Always coincides with their own desires!" Those are the Christians I do not trust and never will! I think most of the GOP pull God out of their hat everytime they want something ,but none of their actions gives any indication theres an ounce of christianity in their bones. Thats exacly why people are leaving the church in droves becuause they can finally see their all filled with hate towards their fellowman. If the were put on trial for being a Christian not one of them could pass the test! The more you try to shove something down someones throat the more they will turn away. I believe in God and Jesus but I don't believe you'll find either in most churches. Especialy when their preaching to them to vote against their best interest. A true Chtistian wants everyone to have access to health care and believe a person shouldn't have to work more then one job just to keep a roof over their head. What the Air Force is pushing on there recutments should be against the law, plain and simple!

    •  the USAFA (5+ / 0-)
      The Air Force Academy should be closed.
      Along with Fort Carson, Cheyenne Mountain, and Schreiver AFB.

      We should require (at least in the absence of a Constitutionally declared war) that all military bases be located in places which have workable civilian economies, and would continue having workable civilian economies in the absence of the DOD.

      Once upon a time not so very long ago, the Pikes Peak Region of Colorado had a working civilian economy and reasonable religion and politics. No more, of course.


      "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

      by thanatokephaloides on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:11:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gee, let's make civilian cities BIGGER targets! (0+ / 0-)

        Japan tried something like this with their industry during WWII; they decentralized much of their production to small facilities scattered throughout their cities. The end result was the Allied firebombing campaigns, because the only way to curtail the production of factory [X] was to destroy large swaths of the city in which it had been decentralized.

        Geography was our friend for the first two centuries of our existence as a nation, in that enemies could not easily strike our "home turf." Today, however, oceans no longer serve as a security blanket. While a Red Dawn scenario may remain unlikely, it is well within reason to suggest that the next major war will include attacks on installations within the US.

        I'm not opposed to closing unnecessary military bases, but moving them to civilian population centers makes no sense.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:57:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  AFA (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Krypto, SilentBrook

      The air force should be disbanded. And it's functions distributed among the Army, the Navy and such specialized agencies that might be established by governmental departments. NASA could handle all the space stuff. Ethics, morals and judgement can be sub-contracted to a motorcycle gang.

  •  Seems Weird (18+ / 0-)

    I happen to be a Catholic and I have no interests at all in anyone else making oaths to my God. The mind once again boggles.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Thu May 08, 2014 at 05:39:21 PM PDT

  •  A lie is cool, (6+ / 0-)

    sometimes you have to do what you have to do.  It will not take these butter bars long to find out that lying is an art in the officer corp.  Just roll with it.

  •  It's not "Lying"... (11+ / 0-)

    It's "covering my ass", which this US Army veteran found to be endemic in the military. I could tell you stories...

    Focus on the love! The Republicans can keep the disco.

    by Mr Horrible on Thu May 08, 2014 at 06:22:42 PM PDT

  •  Is an Air Force thing (12+ / 0-)

    Please don't project this on the rest of us.  I have administered the oath many many times and, just as all my leaders did, I ask what the person I am administering the oath wants.  Its important because if they do not want "So help me God" then they "affirm" instead of "swear" so you need to know before hand.  That way you say "so solemnly affirm" an the oath is administered properly.

    The sins of the Air Force are many but few bring as much shame on the other services as their unholy alliance with religious extremism.  

    It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

    by ksuwildkat on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:06:09 PM PDT

  •  The Air Force may be the worst w/ it's (11+ / 0-)

    faux christianity bullshit.

    Every time I think about the Academy I think of "The Rock".  One simply needs to substitute christian zealots for greed and a producer will have a hit on his hands.

    And frankly, the entire christian comminuty is at blame.  They refuse to stand up to the blowhards - Buchanan, Graham, Dobson et al along with their mega greed churches.  So what they achieve by their pusillanimous reaction is chasing away the youth in droves (thankfully) from christianity.

    It won't happen in my short time left - but hopefully, the mythology will go the way of the dodo bird.

    •  faux christianity bullshit (9+ / 0-)
      And frankly, the entire christian comminuty is at blame.  They refuse to stand up to the blowhards - Buchanan, Graham, Dobson et al along with their mega greed churches.
      Actually, the Christian community does stand up to these blowhards all the time. A great deal of why they all are so dependent on the mega greed churches is that fewer and fewer traditional churches or denominations will have jack to do with them.

      I live within three (3) miles of the USAFA fencelines. Although we have our share of Dobson's dweebs, we also have plenty of Christians who classify Dobson and his ilk as "False Prophets for Profit". (Which is exactly what they are.)

      So what they achieve by their pusillanimous reaction is chasing away the youth in droves (thankfully) from christianity.

      It won't happen in my short time left - but hopefully, the mythology will go the way of the dodo bird.

      We need to make certain that what survives of the whole Jesus phenomenon is the worthwhile stuff -- kindness, mercy and compassion for your fellow humans, standing up for good, speaking truth to power, etc. -- and that the fundie and Calvinist garbage becomes extinct ASAP.

      "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

      by thanatokephaloides on Thu May 08, 2014 at 07:39:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Air Force Academy (12+ / 0-)

    is near Colorado Springs, which is a home base of so many of those nutty evangelical Christian groups - New Life Church, Focus on the Family and others.   The young cadets are undoubtedly immersed in that "viewpoint".   Too bad the Academy is not near Boulder.  They could have a Buddhist ceremony with prayers of peace and "loving-kindness".  ((sarcasm))

    When I was in the army, the forced Christian views were quite pervasive.  Mostly it was the prayers during all the ceremonies we were required to attend.  It also depended on who the unit chaplain was.  The Evangelical chaplains were the worst as far as forcing their views on everyone else.  The Catholic chaplains I remember seemed more respectful of various beliefs.

    BTW, the army has a new group for atheists, called the MASH or Military Atheists and Secular Humanists. There is also the military's MAAF - Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers group.  I believe they are trying for a "Humanist" chaplain.  Not sure what the outcome of that will be.

    •  When I served in the USAF in the '60's (13+ / 0-)

      & '70's there was a strict ban on religion in the workplace.  Chaplains were made available to an Airman or Airwoman who needed one, but they were always in the background.  No proselytizing.  It was wonderful.  To a young man who was the product of Catholic schools it was refreshing to not have religion ever-present, every day in everything.

      I read existentialist literature, gay writers, avante-garde authors, feminists, socialists, Buddhists, etc.  My world opened up.

      That is why it has been sad to learn about the nonsense at the USAFA.  

      You deserve much praise.  I honor you for your work on this issue.

    •  I knew a fantastic Chaplain... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cjtjc, Anna M

      Our Battalion Chaplain (1980s, FT Hood TX) was a remarkable guy.  He was always on the move, because his approach was just to quietly make himself available so any soldier could approach him at any time. You'd see him in the mess hall with a cup of coffee, working at a picnic table in the battalion area, reading a book outside his tent at 2am when we were out in the field...he participated in as many range exercises as he could (with a different company each time), just so he could be out there if a soldier needed to talk to him. There's nothing that says "common touch" like going through gas chamber training together...

      The neat thing was that, after knowing him for almost a year, having numerous conversations with him on any number of topics, and attending his services in the field...I realized that, while he wore the insignia of a Christian chaplain, I had no idea what his denomination might be. If you ask me, that's the mark of a true Chaplain; he ministered to all who requested his services, put no pressure on any soldier, and made no distinction among the soldiers he served.

      I hope that there are still Chaplains like him to be found among today's officers.

      I believe they are trying for a "Humanist" chaplain.  Not sure what the outcome of that will be.
      That's an interesting proposition; that would seem a difficult "fit" within the framework of military chaplaincy, but I certainly hope they find a way to make it work.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Fri May 09, 2014 at 06:41:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How did a governmental entity (4+ / 0-)

    like the Air force become infested with this Christo-fascist ideology?   Who made the decisions that allowed this hateful lunacy?  Every last person responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  This is nothing but pure evil.

    •  Location Location Location (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Colorado Springs has (for some time now)  become ground zero for apocalyptic insanity.

      "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

      by GreenMother on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:22:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The underlying law is specific and punitive (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Shockwave, Simian

    The cadets take a swearing in oath upon arrival at the academy.

    Code of Federal Regulations

    I (name), having been appointed an Air Force cadet in the United States Air Force, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which I am about to enter. So Help Me God.

    If an appointee refuses to take and subscribe to the oath, the appointment is terminated.

    How does this first lie play out over 4 years"?

    We're all just working for Pharaoh.

    by whl on Thu May 08, 2014 at 08:14:45 PM PDT

  •  Unfortunately... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Shockwave

    Choosing to participate in any powerful hierarchical organization i.e. the military, clergy, academia, business or government assumes tacit agreement with the powers that be, and punishment for dissent.

    Nevertheless, I applaud the efforts of those who challenge the hierarchy because nothing ever changes unless people contest the status quo.

    •  Oh the irony--that these so-called American Heroes (0+ / 0-)

      cannot see that what they promote is basically the Divine Right of Kings. Their power is not derived from a god nor from that god's earthly representatives nor progeny.

      But for someone to challenge their imagined source of authority is to be punished as if they were an disfavored courtier in some Royal House.

      Side Slapping Idiocy there.

      "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

      by GreenMother on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:25:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, dewtx, Simian

    Excellent diary, extremely important subject.

    If you do lie, then we beg you to make this your LAST lie.
    If it were me, I probably would go along, considering the consequences--except for making it "So Help Me Cod" at the end. Not that I recognize a deity called Cod, of course.  
  •  When I was in Basic Training (0+ / 0-)

    at Lackland during the first week you get marched to the Chapel where you are told how important religion is, how it will get you through etc. Christianity is never specifically singled out but it is pretty obvious that's what you are meant to be. All of this is accompanied by a highly produced video on a large screen with various Christian themed propaganda. You are then presented with the option of sorting yourselves out with various religions, and at least in my experience, athiests, and Satanists were sorted together. This is of course done in front of everyone.

    When church services were going on I chose to not go and was left to either clean latrines or copy my training manual by hand.

    If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.

    by LieparDestin on Fri May 09, 2014 at 05:45:03 AM PDT

  •  I really admire your for fighting this fight. (0+ / 0-)

    I read your book, Mikey.

    Good for you.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Fri May 09, 2014 at 06:59:37 AM PDT

  •  According to St. Matthew, the fifth chapter: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    33 “Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.
    So those "four words" are not in fact ordained by God, but shaped by men (gender intentional)....
    •  Gospel of Matthew and oaths (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BeninSC, Yonit

      I commend you.  These verses are the right place to take the Christians who support the last four words of the oath and ask them if it would not be more aligned with the teaching of Jesus to remove them.  I think it would be.  Christian's who think it should stay should provide a Biblical basis for including it, (unless the Lord guards the city?) and then review the historical reasons why the first amendment to the Constitution is a good thing for the Church.  Having been enlisted in the USAF, I noted at the time that the inclusion of these words seemed to have more to do with anti-Communism and opposition to the official atheism of the Soviet Union, China, and others we were sparring with at the time.  Active as I was in the base chapel program, I was uncomfortable with such statements that attempted to meld the Church and State in each individual.  The chaplains were there if that's what some of us would have appreciated in a combat area, especially if it were our last moments.  But spiritual growth is on another plane, what is God's, not on Caesar's (USAF).  The anti-Communist rationale has faded, and I don't know that it was ever needed.  Russia now has a higher percentage of people that believe in God than the U.S., and I have heard testimony of a thriving underground church in China.  While welcoming all, the Holy Spirit can get along just fine in the world without USAF members solemnizing their commitment to the Constitution in this manner. In my current industry, honesty is crucial for safety, and proof of insurance, demonstrated technical competence, a revocable license to practice, and performance bonds have more credibility than an earnest countenance and "so help me God."  Counterparties are more likely to be concerned with a lack of focus on the job at hand if such words of assurance were offered.  My own sense of the Holy Spirit within involves the highest interest in honesty and appropriate attention to matters that, poorly handled, will endanger others.  I love my neighbor by doing my job well, among other ways.  I think we all want military leadership that is based on merit and honesty.  I met such officers of many persuasions when I was in.  I am sad to read implications that it's gone downhill.  USAFA might do better at graduation to do something similar to what is done in ordinations of clergy: ask the yes or no questions that really matter to the USAF mission.  That seems consistent with Jesus' statement above, and might avoid evil, and gain the quiet blessing of a life lived honestly.  

      •  Many of the problems in the military may trace to (0+ / 0-)

        the extreme burden they have carried over the past decade plus. I have heard that it has driven many career veterans out of the service altogether, with far less experienced individuals tasked with filling the void. I have not seen statistics, but it makes sense to me.

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Timtrewyn.

        Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
        ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

        "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT -9.62, -9.13

        by BeninSC on Sat May 10, 2014 at 06:41:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't make it a practice (0+ / 0-)

    to donate to anyone who addresses themselves as "Esquire" ("Esq.")  Such persons are clearly above my lowly, non-titled station in life and therefore must not be in need of my comparatively sparse resources. Since this person is in such close contact with his deity, however, no doubt he can duly expect wealth from On High to be showered upon him momentarily.

  •  "Calls from concerned parents" (0+ / 0-)

    Tough shit. Your little boys and girls are all growed up now, and should be allowed to make their own decisions.

    And if your kid's future, integrity, faith, or whatever is negatively affected by the fact that he or she didn't say four words in one oath in one instance at the age of 22, you failed in your bringing up of that kid.

    •  You miss the point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SilentBrook, Yonit

      There is such an infestation of right-wing fundamentalist "Christians" in the military in general and in the Air Force especially, that any hint that someone isn't equally as rabid a Christian is enough for them to make that hint a career-limiting move. They do indeed tell each other, and do indeed give each other the better assignments. So, yeah, one's future in the Air Force can depend on pretense and lies. It shouldn't be like that.

      So, your statement that it's a measure of failure in upbringing implies either the kid should (a) be raised fundamentalist Christian to better fit in, or (b) be raised willing to lie and otherwise sacrifice honor to better fit into an organization supposedly based on honor.

      •  Career limiting move? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SilentBrook, Yonit, DQKennard

        How about life limiting? If you are designated as
        being "out of step with Jesus" you might find
        yourself in more than your share of difficult
        circumstances. Being "nudged" into serving under
        officers who apply the "purifying" "fire" to either
        force you out or "cull the herd", so to speak.

        Things start happening like with the "Missileers"
        recently. Drugs? Degraded routines & requirements.
        It happens with assignments that are career
        dead ends & with drudgery & routine. It happens
        for other reasons also.

        Guess what's left in the career services?
        Generals like Boykin? That's the whole idea.

  •  How about this? (0+ / 0-)

    So help me, Dawg!

  •  My Father-in-Law (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SilentBrook, Yonit

    My Father-in-Law was an Episcopal Priest.

    When JFK told people to ask what they could do for their country, he went to his Bishop and asked. The Bishop said the Air Force needed more non-Baptist Chaplains. He signed up, and was a Chaplain for a number of years. Obviously, even in the 60s there was concern about the direction of religion in the military.

    I have no problem with the idea of military Chaplains, but this pervasive religiosity -- especially in how it controls the structure and affects the lives and careers of even the non-religious -- goes way too far.

  •  How much of the brown smelly stuff (0+ / 0-)

    would hit the fan blades if those of different persuasions began inserting phrases such as, So Help Me Allah, So Help Me Zeus, So Help Me Satan, So Help Me Athena, So Help Me fill in the blank.  This should not be "optional", it should simply not be allowed.  If you want to send a shout out to the deity of your choice do it before hand and/or after the fact.

    "Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity." - Thomas Paine

    Recommended by:

    Pastors "Blood Moon" Hagee & Parsley with their
    extreme minority opinions & outsized access to
    millions just love the very idea of "the fire this time"
    in our and Sister Palin's life time & their outsized
    influence with the service with so much nuk access.

    Imagine what went on in the minds of fundamentalist
    Air Force officers when they saw Pres. Obama get
    the Nobel Peace Prize for becoming the 1st sitting
    President to advocate for Zero Nuks or Global Zero?
    Their hair stood up at this insult to their identities.

    Imagine what their counterparts in Pakistan
    are thinking when they see the latest western
    affront to their conservative secular or religious
    purity? They might be thinking about that
    "purifying fyi'er" so "that Allah can start over"
    with a pure clean slate & blah blah blah.

    What's that? Onama also isn't "pure" enough
    for the orthodox b/c of his drone policies &
    is not in any way deserving of a Peace prize?
    Barry O'bomber" blah blah blah

    O has spent billions upgrading the nuk weapons
    industrial complex b/c it's necessary & b/c
    he has to buy off Republican votes for necessary
    legislation & "little details" like the START Treaty.

    Which party has a lock on US fundamentalism
    again? Both Protestant & the Catholic variety?
    Who recruit from Bob Jones & Liberty U?

    Then there are the healthcare purists who insist
    O's a sell out to Big I & Big Pharma. Why do you
    think these same groups get $ from Big T tobacco?
    To promote legislation that has no chance to pass
    & to kill anything that can pass like the
    complicated imperfect ACA. THANK GOD
    they & the GOP failed this time.

  •  Great article (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is so right on.  God and country are a cup of poison.  Many have died from drinking it.

    "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

    by Hermenutic on Sat May 10, 2014 at 04:51:33 PM PDT

  •  Those words are optional to the President, too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I resent those words, and feel that they have absolutely no place in an oath of public office in a country where establishment of religion is unconstitutional.  I have no problem with people thinking the words, but saying them has created an expectation that one must say them or be treated as an outsider.  Now, we have monitors taking names.  What about Jews, who aren't supposed to repeat the name of their deity?  Would a cadet lose a point, or maybe two, if he said "so help me Allah?"  Lying is supposed to be a major infraction for a cadet, yet this practice essentially makes some cadets say words that belie their beliefs or suffer (illegal) consequences.

    I think that the military academies need to go on record and instruct cadets that their words should be restricted to only the words of the official oath.  Any religious thought or words should be reserved for private time.  Of course, I also object to "so help me god" and putting one's hand on a bible as part of the swearing-in in court proceedings.

    •  sorta agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      olegar, Yonit

      I believe there is something which has been called God that has been hijacked by most of the current religions by means of theology.

      I don't think of God as the hot headed SOB you read about in some places of the Old Testament. I think of God as a concept used to explore the nature of existence beyond the limits of empirical investigation.  

      I've gained a lot of insight from renegade Physicist Tom Campbell and his insights into the nature of reality and consciousness which make me feel not stupid in believing that God exists.

      That being said God and country are a pairing that will inevitably be involved in bloodshed and atrocities.  There are multiple biblical precedents to assure that outcome.  God, the one described in religions, has no place in governmental affairs. He's blood thirsty and vindictive.

      The other God, the reason for existence, I still hold onto.  He's a quiet God and doesn't say much. He has no theology and asks only that you thoughtfully consider the nature of your own being.  He asks you to believe nothing,  while examining and discovering what it means to be alive.  ( I use 'He' as a matter of simplicity and convention.  I'm think he must be androgynous.  

      "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness," Allen Ginsberg

      by Hermenutic on Sat May 10, 2014 at 05:43:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have put, in a clear voice, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        what many of us, raised in fundamental religious surroundings, have wanted to say for most of our adult lives. Is it so necessary to bow to this demanding "god", the one generated by those ancient humans?  Don't we have the right to question the litany of  cruelty and vindictiveness of said entity?  

        That said, it is very hard for those steeped and, yes, brainwashed as children, in the rightness of the christian religion, to break away.  You leave many precious friends and family, who will now brand you as a traitor to Mom and Dad, apple pie and Jesus.....

        Banks will only lend you money if you can prove you don't need it.

        by olegar on Sun May 11, 2014 at 08:53:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "So help me..." (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Simple solution:

    "So help me, dog".

  •  Here's a thought.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When you join the military, you swear to protect and defend; in essence, you abdicate your right to choose WHAT you protect and defend.  You are, for all intents and purposes, government property.

    When I was in uniform, the deal was: you could be worked 20 hours a day, an MRE was considered a meal, and while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said, "Nothing we do in peacetime warrants the loss of life or limb", we were expected to put it on the line regardless.

    The Constitution does forbid a religious test for office, so RIGHTFULLY, cadets CAN refuse those words -- and should suffer exactly ZERO backlash for it.  BECAUSE, UNTIL YOU TAKE THE OATH, you are NOT government property!

    "This is my last act as a free independent citizen" could be the rallying cry for them -- but that would be "bad for morale", wouldn't it?

    Even enlisted troops raise the right hand and take an oath -- but after that, there was no requirement to attend church, pray, or any of it.

    A REAL thought for them:  when the time comes to say, "So help me god", silently add "-damn" on the end of it.

  •  USAFA Integrity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeninSC, Yonit

    I must agree with Mikey Weinstein.  I am a Colonel,  USAF Retired.  My initial career field was Missile Launch Officer.  By the time I left that (3 years) I was seriously disenchanted because of a total lack of integrity in the USAF as an institution.  BUT,  I am an Aeronautical Engineer (MIT) and this was during the Cold War.  I worked for many decades in the Defense Industry.

    Early on,  I got a letter informing me that if I did not go Active Ready Reserve immediately,  I would be drafted as a buck private because I was several weeks short of fulfilling my ROTC Contract.  (My Discharge Papers read "For the Convenience of the Government" -- somehow this discrepancy did not seem strange to the USAF....)  Anyhow,  I decided that if they were going to do that,  I would find a portion of USAF which maintained integrity.  I did find such a career field by going into R&D,  being willing to move if the assignment conflicted with moral values,  and avoiding "Conflict of Interest" by telling BOTH my military and my civilian boss whatever project the other wanted to place me on,  along with a reminder that if the projects overlapped,  HE would take the heat for the Conflict,  not me.  Never caused a problem -- always simply improved the respect I got from both bosses.  

    Anyhow,  did well in both careers (Colonel for a Reservist is kind of unusual;  Reserve Colonel (non-political) on the Staff of the Secretary of the Air Force is rather rare.  I seemed to brag here,  but I am building a case for my credibility in saying there are pockets of decency in the USAF (and in all the military) but that things like Mikey Weinstein criticized in his article are too often the norm.  To top it off,  the USAF educational system ENFORCES beliefs about the Billy Mitchell thing which are at total variance with the actual events and with what history needs to teach us (AND the USAF !!) about that.  I have been published professionally as a historian of that period.

    In short,  I agree with the article and hope it will be read by the young Officers and make them think in terms of WHY they were Commissioned.  More USAFA  "Heathen Flights"  are one of those things this Nation does NOT need.  (Some of you may remember THAT disgrace!)

  •  Sadly, it doesn't surprise me ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... that the military begins to enforce cognitive dissonance among it's officers very early in their careers.  I'm pretty sure that the ability to hold conflicting beliefs in the same brain is essential for success in the military.

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Sun May 11, 2014 at 03:39:39 PM PDT

    •  No. Success in military requires clear thinking. (0+ / 0-)

      You don't win battles by lying to yourself. That is why the military is addressing climate change as a threat.

      It is religion that requires cognitive dissonance (such as suspension of disbelief, a.k.a. "faith"). Since religion has deeply infiltrated politics and the military, climbing in the ranks of both organizations requires politicking including at least pretending to be religious. The big danger is that evangelical religion (like Dominionism) is trying to rise above military and country loyalty to be an end in itself.

  •  Land of the free?? (0+ / 0-)

    It never fails to amaze me how many people and groups in the US are on a mission to impose their view on others. That effort results in a lack of freedom which is just fine with these zealots. Plain disgusting. The religious groups should keep their views for themselves.

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