Members of the U.S. Air Force will no longer be required to say “so help me God” during their enlistment oath.
A legal review of rules that required the phrase occurred after the American Humanist Association threatened to sue on behalf of an atheist airman. The unnamed airman at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was denied re-enlistment Aug. 25 after crossing the phrase out of the oath.
“We take any instance in which Airmen report concerns regarding religious freedom seriously,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Air Force Times reported Wednesday. The change in policy goes into effect immediately.
“We are pleased that the U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed our client has a First Amendment right to omit the reference to a supreme being in his reenlistment oath,” Monica Miller, an attorney with the AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement Wednesday, Air Force Times reported. “We hope the Air Force will respect the constitutional rights of Atheists in the future.”
The Army, Navy and Marine Corps all give enlistees the option to say “so help me God.”