Last week, an anonymous sergeant in the U.S. Air Force made the news for omitting the words “So help God” from his Oath of Enlistment when he tried to reenlist at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. The Air Force proceeded to freak out, and insisted that the sergeant must say “So help me God” or he wouldn’t be allowed back in. But on Wednesday, the Air Force reversed course after the Department of Defense General Counsel said that enlistees could omit the phrase, just like they’re allowed to do in all other branches of the armed forces.
The Air Force agreeing not to compel irreligious enlistees to recognize god isn’t sitting too well with televangelist Pat Robertson, who in an impressive feat of rhetorical gymnastics, used this as an opportunity to bash Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which fights unconstitutional religious encroachments in the military:
“There’s a Left wing radical named Mickey [sic] Weinstein who has got a group about people against religion or whatever he calls it. And he has just terrorized the armed forces. You think you’re supposed to be tough, you’re supposed to defend us, and you got one little Jewish radical who is scaring the pants off of you. You want these guys flying the airplanes to defend us when you’ve got one little guy terrorizing them? That’s what it amounts to. You know we swear oaths and this ‘So help me God,’ what does it mean? It means that with God’s help, and you don’t have to say that you believe in God. You just say I want some help beside myself that the oath I’m taking–it’s just crazy. What is wrong with the Air Force? How can they fly the bombers to defend us if they cave to one little guy?”
This is the Christian persecution complex at its finest, and it becomes even more absurd when you consider the fact that in this heavily Christian country, 53% of Americans say they would be less likely to vote for an atheist for president.
For Robertson and his ilk, when an atheist objects to being compelled to recognize god as a condition for serving his country, it’s not the atheist who’s the victim of institutional religious biases, but rather it’s those Christians and other faithful who are who are unfairly forced to tolerate the mere existence of nonbelievers who refuse to play along. And as annoying as such nonsensical whining and hand-wringing by religious nutjobbers is, it could very well be a sign that they’re running out of effective ways to counteract the continued secularization of American society.