It took the threat of a lawsuit before the Air Force agreed on Wednesday to allow airmen to omit the phrase “So help me God” as part of a required oath. Until then, they claimed an airman stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada was ineligible to reenlist after he crossed out the phrase on his reenlistment form.And slapping "In God We Trust" on the County Council wall? Yea, I object to that too.
This controversy will rile up many people of good will—not against the military, but against the airman. Why make a big deal out of words that the majority of Americans believe in? Just cross your fingers if you must, and say the words. Why rock the boat?
Here’s why: The incident betrays a subtext of intolerance and hostility toward secular people that is embedded in American culture and public institutions. The Air Force was ready to end a man’s military career because he would not submit to its religious demands.
To secular Americans, requiring an oath to God is like asking a Jewish airman to swear, “So help me Jesus” or a Christian to say, “So help me Allah.”
The objection to forcing the oath on nonbelievers should be obvious. It’s not.
And now some numbers:
Secular Americans make up a huge and growing stratum of society. Atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and the nonreligious make up 20 percent of Americans overall and fully a third of Millennials under 30 years old. But until secular people come forward and introduce themselves, the misconceptions marginalizing them will persist.Yea, cause we're Godless and all that.
The polls are pretty startling. A Pew poll this year found that nearly half of Americans say it’s necessary to believe in God to be a moral person. Another recent poll found Americans would rather vote for an adulterous or pot-smoking candidate for President than one who is an atheist.
But a new campaign is hoping to change all that. Openly Secular launching today, is a new coalition of more than two dozen secular groups—one of the largest of its kind—coming together with the goal of raising awareness of the numbers of nonreligious people in the country. We include not only atheists and agnostics, but our allied organizations include religious people of many denominations who cherish the Founding Fathers’ ideal of church-state separation.Hello, I'm David. I'm an agnostic and I am openly secular.