(WASHINGTON) — The Air Force opted on Wednesday to allow its members to omit the phrase “so help me God” when reciting their enlistment and appointment oaths.
Recently, an atheist airman was denied re-enlistment after he refused to end his oath with the phrase. The airman was told that regulations required the oath include the phrase.
The Pentagon General Counsel decided that such a phrase can’t be mandatory in military oaths.
“In response to a request from the Department of the Air Force, the Department of the Defense’s General Counsel issued a legal opinion today regarding the use of ‘So help me God’ in commissioning and enlistment oaths,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Commander Nate Christensen said Wednesday. “The General Counsel concluded that an individual may exclude the words, ‘So help me God,’ and that the Department may not compel the individual to include those words as a condition of enlistment or officer appointment.”
The change goes into effect immediately.
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