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Humanist Group Defends U.S. Air Force Member’s Right to Omit ‘So Help Me God’

For Immediate Release

Contact:

Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, merrillmiller@americanhumanist.org

Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, mmiller@americanhumanist.org

(Washington, D.C., Sept. 4, 2014)— The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center recently sent a letter to United States Air Force officials on behalf of a service member at the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, who has been denied reenlistment for omitting the phrase “so help me God” from his contract. This matter was brought to the American Humanist Association’s attention by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), an organization that builds community for the thousands of nontheist service members contending every day with overt religiosity in the military.

According to the letter, on August 25, 2014, the member of the U.S. Air Force opted for a secular affirmation in his reenlistment contract. He was told by his superiors that he must swear to God or leave the Air Force. The letter demands that the service member be permitted to reenlist using a secular affirmation.

“The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or reenlistment contracts.”

“This Airman shows integrity, commitment to the nation, and respect for religion in standing firm for a secular oath that reflects his true values and intentions,” said Jason Torpy, board member of the American Humanist Association and president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

The letter states that if the service member is not given the opportunity to reenlist, the commanding officers may be sued. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers is working with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center on this issue. A copy of the letter can be viewed here.   

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Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.