The US Air Force has told a sergeant he will have to leave the military unless he agrees to take an oath with the phrase “so help me God,” officials said Tuesday.
In the latest religious controversy to roil the air force, the atheist airman last month was denied his request to re-enlist because of his refusal to swear to God – and he is now poised to take the military to court, his lawyer said.
“We have not received word from the Air Force regarding our letter. It has not indicated a willingness to settle out of court,” said Monica Miller, an attorney for the American Humanist Association, which has taken up the service member’s case.
With the deadline for re-enlisting expiring in November, the technical sergeant at Creech Air Force base in Nevada – whose name has not been released – will be forced to sue the government in a federal court, Miller told AFP.
In the past, an airman could opt for an alternative phrase and omit the words “so help me God,” but the US Air Force changed its policy in October 2013.
The American Humanist Association has formally sent a complaint to Birdville Independent School District in Texas, citing that Isaiah Smith’s First Amendment rights have been violated after the teen was suspended for ripping out pages of his Bible as a protest against anti-gay bullying. Smith, who is gay and Christian, said that he was repeatedly told that “being gay is a sin,” and that “gays go to hell,” by students at his school.
Influential Freethinker of the Day: Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century. He wrote such works as Mother Night (1961), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.
Major works: Mother Night, Harrison Bergeron, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions
Religion: Humanistic Unitarian Atheist (he could never quite decide!)
Comments: You can’t think of modern Freethinkers without coming across Vonnegut. A brilliant writer and a devoted activist he protested the Vietnam War, belonged to the ACLU, was president of the American Humanist Association, and wrote scathing criticisms of the Bush II administration. Most well known for his fiction books and short stories his departure in 2007 after a tragic fall deprived the world of a great mind.
In this month’s show, Todd and Kim interview Dr. Peter Boghossian, philosopher and the author of “A Manual for Creating Atheists.”
Listen and Todd and Kim talk to Dr. Boghossian about many topics including his new book, “A Manual for Creating Atheists,” the “faith virus,” how to get religious believers to change their way of thinking, the non-theist sense of wonder, gateway beliefs, and a new TV project called “The Reason Whisperer.”
Complete show notes and links here: podcast.thehumanist.org/2013/12/the-humanist-hour-90-dr-peter-boghossian/