“So help me God”, COEXIST, freedom of religion, Jihadists, mainstream faiths, military, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, Military for Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), Tolerance, U.S. military
By Diane Markins
Does including the phrase, “So help me God” to an oath add value or impact? The United States Air Force Academy believed so in 1984 when it changed the candidate oath to include these words. But now they are removing the same words because of a complaint by the Military for Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).
Only a year ago, the Latin word for “God” was removed from the logo of an Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The word was removed after objections by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.
Is religion in the U.S. military under attack from “friendly fire?” Undermining and demeaning Christian faith in the armed forces is expected to come from Jihadists, but it seems that there is a domestic battle being waged as well.
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“Two military chaplains are suing Eric Shinseki, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, or VA, for allegedly being harassed and drummed out of a training and placement program because of their Christian faith.
Chaplains Major Steven Firtko, U.S. Army (Retired) and Lieutenant Commander Dan Klender, U.S. Navy, claim they were mocked, scolded and threatened for their faith while enrolled in the San Diego VA-DOD Clinical Pastoral Education Center program, which trains and distributes chaplains to military and VA medical centers in the San Diego area.
According to their lawsuit, Firtko and Klender allege the Center’s supervisor, Ms. Nancy Dietsch, a VA employee, derided them in classrooms and even had one of them dismissed for failing to renounce his Christian beliefs.
In July, Firtko, Klender and their sponsoring organization, the Conservative Baptist Association of America, filed formal complaint against Dietsch and the VA.
Now the lawsuit, filed with the help of Military-Veterans Advocacy, explains that Firtko and Klender have exhausted all administrative options and that the harassment the chaplains endured violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedures Act and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“No American choosing to serve in the armed forces should be openly ridiculed for his Christian faith, and that is most obviously true for chaplains participating in a chaplain training program,” said Commander J.B. Wells, U. S. Navy (Ret.), executive director of Military-Veterans Advocacy. “Not only was the treatment these men received inappropriate, it was also a violation of federal law and the religious freedom guarantees of the First Amendment.”
The lawsuit, Conservative Baptist Association of America v. Shinseki, has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.”
How can atheism “COEXIST” with mainstream faiths (Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, Buddism) when it precludes any existence of God while the others assume a sovereign power of some nature? We managed for 235 years to peacefully live side by side, yet now, in the name of “tolerance” ALL reference to any deity is being erased. Are we so childish that anyone who disagrees must be WRONG? and therefore, denied freedom?