An atheist airman who is refusing to say "so help me God" in the Oath of Enlistment statutorily required to reenlist in the Air Force, has threatened to file a lawsuit against the Department of Defense. He now has until November to comply with the requirement or leave when his contract expires, according to an Air Force official.
Air Force spokeswoman Rose Richeson told the Air Force Times that the unidentified airman stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada continues to serve and will remain in service until November, when his contract expires. If he does not take the oath as required by then, he will have to leave.
"The airman's term of service expires in November," said Richeson. "He has until this time to complete the Department of Defense Form 4 in compliance with the Title 10 USC 502."
Citing the four-page DD Form 4, titled "Enlistment/Reenlistment Document, Armed Forces of the United States," the Air Force Times highlights the oath as:
I, [insert name], 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; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
According to the AHA, the airman crossed out "so help me God" from the oath and was told on Aug. 25 that the oath was unacceptable without the reference to God. The AHA is arguing that requiring the atheist airman to pledge to God, which he does not believe in, is unconstitutional and unacceptable.
The Air Force, however, maintains that "so help me God" cannot be made optional unless Congress amends the statute requiring the phrase in the oath.