COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The Air Force Academy has responded after a foundation protested against a religious reference within the Air Force Academy pledge.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is strongly against the “so help me God” phrase that is at the end of the pledge. It has cadets promising they won’t cheat, steal, lie, or tolerate those who do so.
“To tie the honor code to a religious test violates the no-establishment clause of the Constitution,” Founder Mikey Weinstein told The Gazette.
The academy was considering a few options which included dropping the entire honor oath. Another option was to make the speaking of the phrase optional to cadets, which the academy decided to do on Friday.
“We need to be respectful of all people of faith and all people of no faith,” Academy spokesman David Cannon told explained to the newspaper. “Our goal is to do the right thing for the Air Force Academy.”
“After reviewing the Cadet Honor Oath, and in the spirit of determining a way ahead that enables all to be true to their beliefs, the Air Force’s Academy has decided to make the final clause optional,” the Air Force Academy announced on Friday.
In 1984, after 19 seniors were disciplined for cheating on an exam, the honor oath began to be used by the academy.
“The cadets who owned the code thought developing an honor oath would help to reinforce the importance of the honor code,” Cannon shared.
A year after the first class entered the academy in 1956, the honor code was chosen by cadets. A cadet honor board reviews violations of the code and. Punishment ranges from expulsion to strict probation.
Weinstein wanted the reference of God to be completely removed from the oath.