Tell Your U.S. Representative: Respect All Military Members and Keep God Optional!

In 2013, thanks to the efforts of church-state watchdogs, the United States Air Force Academy reversed its policy that made the phrase “so help me God” a mandatory part of its cadet oath—an oath all cadets must give. “So help me God” became, and remains, an option for religious cadets, just as it’s an option for all citizens when they give an oath to join the military.

But optional isn’t good enough for Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX). To stifle efforts by the military to respect the growing diversity of beliefs within its ranks, last week Johnson introduced the “Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015” (H.R. 1425), which would prevent the military from making any changes to its oaths without obtaining congressional approval. This is an extreme measure that would effectively force cadets and servicemembers to swear an oath to God whether they believe in one or not.

In support of his bill, Rep. Johnson stated: “Our Constitution’s very First Amendment protects every individual’s freedom of religion. But our servicemen and women who protect our county with their lives are seeing that freedom under fire…Let me be clear: Americans have the freedom of religion —but not freedom from religion.”

Servicemembers’ religious freedom is “under fire” but, as this example shows, it’s sectarian ideologues like Rep. Johnson who are pulling the proverbial trigger.

Freedom of religion requires freedom from religion—especially freedom from compulsion and the establishment of religion by the government. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees this freedom, and, for those seeking public office, Article VI bans religious tests—such as requiring an oath to a God that person may or may not believe in.

Rep. Johnson continued: “The moral foundation of our country is in serious danger if we allow radical groups to dictate whether or not we can freely express our religious beliefs! It’s time to take a stand.”

Indeed—but Rep. Johnson should take note that “radical groups” can include reactionary lawmakers, and that freedom of religious expression includes the freedom to both abstain and dissent.

Fortunately, you can do your part and take a stand for those freedoms. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) urges you to contact your U.S. Representative today and demand they oppose H.R. 1425. Tell them to not impose religious beliefs and speech on those who volunteer to serve us—honor all servicemembers by keeping God optional!

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Vote No On H.R. 1425 - Respect All Military Members and Keep God Optional!

Dear [Decision Maker],

I'm writing to ask that you please vote against H.R. 1425, the "Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015," which would prevent the military from making any changes to its oaths without obtaining congressional approval. This is an extreme measure in response to the Air Force affirming that "so help me God" is an optional part of its oaths. If this bill passes, it would effectively force servicemembers to swear an oath to God whether they believe in one or not.

Freedom of religion requires freedom from religion--especially freedom from compulsion and the establishment of religion by the government. And, freedom of religious expression includes the freedom to both abstain and dissent. The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees these freedoms, and, for those seeking public office, Article VI of the Constitution bans religious tests--such as requiring an oath to a god that person may or may not believe in.

The U.S. military has always been a diverse institution where citizens of all beliefs, philosophies, and traditions serve with dignity and honor, and with a common purpose. We should never use our government to impose religious beliefs or speech on them, or anyone else. Please vote "no" on H.R. 1425 and respect all servicemembers by keeping "so help me God" optional.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

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