For many years I worked at the International Bible Society which was located just across the valley from the Air Force Academy. We had many congenial contacts with the Academy. We worshipped in their beautiful chapel. Every day we would watch the planes fly overhead as the cadets practiced their skills and prepared for service. They walked a certain walk and they talked a certain talk. There seemed to be no confusion in their resolve to serve our country and honor the fact that on every dollar we earn and spend in our free society is written “In God We Trust.”
The Air Force Academy’s oath is: “We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God.”
The Honor Review Committee met recently to consider a complaint filed by the military Religious Freedom Foundation. The statement released by Lt. General Michelle Johnson said in a prepared statement, “Here at the Academy, we work to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, Airmen and civilian Airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference – or not.” In the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the Honor Oath with “So help me God,” said Johnson, the superintendent of the Academy.
Let’s take a look at this height of hypocrisy. Talk about a confused society. All of the elements of the Oath itself are taken out of the Bible. The Bible is a revelation from God sent as a template for the human race. The phrase, “So help me God” is not religious because everyone has a god. Even those who claim to disbelieve in God have established a god thing in their lives by needing to claim that there is none. The whole idea of God is not religious. The idea of God is birthed when a person realizes there is more to life than one can do for themselves. You choose which god you will serve.
If you want to make yourself a God in a free society, do it. You’re allowed! Saying “So help me God” is no more religious than “pull yourself up by your boot straps” or “You make your bed, you sleep in it.” I will not lie, steal or cheat or tolerate among us anyone who does” are all given to us through the Biblical message. Yet the short sighted thinkers who give up their lives in war to protect our freedoms run with fear from every person they feel they are offending with a differing opinion.
Let’s get real. Someone is frequently offended by anything anyone else says. The moment one expresses an opinion of any kind, there will be those who take issue. We are asked to pray every day for the young men and women who protect our freedoms on the battlefields of the world. Maybe the Academy could send me a list of those who reject God’s help, so that I can pray more intelligently that they might be turned from their narcissistic ways to the very heart of what their Oath is all about. To reject God is to reject the very source of breath and life that gives everyone of us the capacity to make a contribution to our world, whether it be to build it up or tear it down.