Air Force Allows Oath to be Taken Without 'So Help Me God'

An atheist airman says he can't reenlist until he takes an oath with the phrase "So help me God." USAF

The U.S. Air Force has reversed its position on requiring enlisted members and officers to swear an oath containing the phrase, "So help me God," the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office announced today.

The Air Force faced a spate of criticism after it informed an unnamed airman that he must recite the words "So help me God" as part of his reenlistment oath or leave the Air Force.

"The Air Force has instructed force support offices across the service to allow both enlisted members and officers to omit the words 'So help me God' from enlistment and officer appointment oaths if an Airman chooses," Capt. Brooke Brzozowske wrote in a media release. "In response to concerns raised by Airmen, the Department of the Air Force requested an opinion from the Department of Defense General Counsel addressing the legal parameters of the oath," she continued. "The resulting opinion concluded that an individual may strike or omit the words 'So help me God' from an enlistment or appointment oath if preferred."

The move means a return to the long-standing policy before October 2013 of allowing the words to be omitted.