I re-enlisted this past Thursday (14May2009). I have been in the military for over 6 yrs now, so I know I had to have said the words before....I guess I didn't pay that much attention to the entire oath previously. Now it has just been eating away at me!! Everything was fine until the very last sentence "So help me God". I cringed at the thought of saying this, however, I was on a stage in front of my entire battery and chain-of-command. I paused briefly, glanced at my husband, and uttered the words. I suddenly had a knot in my stomach that said I just went against everything I believe in--and don't believe in. That was 2 days ago and I still am angry with myself for not being more outspoken about it. I mean I'm pretty outspoken and professional so why did I say it just to get it over with? I only re-enlisted for 2 yrs this time, but I plan on re-enlisting again in October (the start of the new fiscal yr). I'm hoping to gather support to at least have this phrase as an optional part of enlistment. Even for those who have religous convictions, what if who they worship is not refered to as "God"; so am I wrong or making to much out of this? It seems very discriminatory and assumptive to assume one would think that "So help me God" is going to make or not make me follow the orders of the Commander-in-Chief , or the officers appointed over me.

My husband holds the same views as I, he just isn't as vocal about them unless provoked. When we got home later that day, I was telling him how I felt. He said it's just words, it by no means is a sign of actually believing in them. I see his point, but in my eyes by not saying anything to the contrary about the 'phrase' means that I personally allowed another Christian to dominate over my commitment (oath) to my country. On the flip side, my husband said our commitment to our family and ensuring they have food, roof over their heads, clothes, and other living essentials is priority #1, and I absolutely agree. However, is it too much to ask to be able to porvide for my family, serve my country, have a healthy career progression, plan for a retirement...and N-O-T have to say silly things such as "So help me God"? I think this is partly if not entirely how christians have such a strong hold--people tend to act in general as I did last Thurs..look at the bigger picture and not get tripped up on little comments or sayings, thus, christians end up with 'swollen heads & egos' and feel threatened when someone does speak up. I feel in my heart that by not speaking up we are not only failing to have our beliefs acknowledged, but we are catering to those who can't stand us (at least belief wise anyways). I do not think that any religous group should have to be catered to when they are trying to force their words out of my mouth.

I will either not say that part of the Oath of Enlistment in October, or I vow to not re-enlist. I cannot have this on my concious again, therefore I won't. This said, I plan to actively campaign against having this as part of the Oath required for military service; not just for myself, but for others who hold my views and those who are believers that just don't call their 'god' .."God".

Any support, opinions, constructive criticism, debate, etc is more than welcome...just please be respectful to make valid points.

Views: 268

Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 16, 2009 at 3:05pm
Uuugggh.. What a horrible position to be in.
I'd say contact the ACLU as soon as possible BEFORE your next re-enlistment. I'm sure there has to be some legal option available for you. I remember there being a big fight about atheism for graves/dogtags.
Anyone know what ever came of that?
Comment by Rev. Tom Hicks, D.D. on May 16, 2009 at 3:07pm
I like your style. I would campaign against it but in the end, they'll just say not to re-enlist. Sort of like Hillary Clinton with the automatic rifle situation sayin' that if you want to have one, enlist. Bah.
Comment by mrs kelligurl on May 16, 2009 at 4:39pm
Thank you guys for your comments! To Misty, yes there was a big debate with a widow and Congress. Her husband was a practicing Wiccan, but because he was buried at Arlington (I believe) the Wiccan symbol was not recognized as a legitimate headstone emblem. The widow won finally. I currently have "Atheist" on my dogtags, however, there is a strong religous backing in the military with various events. ACLU may be a good idea, don't know why I hadn't thought of that--Thanks!

To Rev. James, I am going to fight this, however, your right I'm fully prepared for them to say "You don't have to say those words...so feel free to start ACAP-ing" (That means doing necessary process to get out. I'm not going to give in or up on this--wish me luck!!
Comment by Gaytor on May 16, 2009 at 5:09pm
Standing up for yourself almost always mean that you are standing for others as well. If we were to follow A Few Good Men's arguments you are to protect the weak. I would have nothing against you or anyone else not standing up and making an issue of it, but it's getting to be time that someone pushed back against religion in the military.
I attended a Marine Ball last year. It was clearly a religious event. Not a little, there were compulsory prayers led by men in uniform. I am not a Marine, so I really don't have a right to complain. It's up to whomever is It's time someone speaks up and if it's in you to do so, you'd have a lot of support here. But if you don't, we'd all understand that too. It's a tough spot.
Comment by Morgan Matthew on May 16, 2009 at 7:12pm

Comment by Johnny on May 16, 2009 at 8:06pm
I would suggest contacting Mikey Weinstein (or someone else) at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. I'm sure they have come across this before, and should be able to provide some suggestions.
Comment by mrs kelligurl on May 16, 2009 at 11:02pm
Wow, you guys are all full of information and positive comments! I really appreciate them, this truly is a tough spot to be in.

Gaytor, I have also been to Marine Corp & Navy Balls, as well as Army functions, and yes they are all religous based. They are intertwined with prayers, "God Bless America/You", and other not-so subtle implications of a 'god'. It's kinda like being in a war zone and telling your commrades you don't believe in war----it's not a good situation to be in (I'm using a reference from my husband). unfortunately I've seen some things to make one not very proud of the military, but instead of getting out I wanted to do my part to help ensure others had a better experience; and that may well include taking on the religous issue with the military.

To Alan, I also haven't heard of any other soldiers trying to change this either. I literally didn't know there was even a "So help me God" phrase in there until about 15minutes prior to me saying it. I opened up my re-ep certificate and saw it and was blown away. I know I have it in me to stand up for what is right (I've done it before..and the CMDR was relieved of command), but it was very hard and life wasn't exactly made pleasant until it was over.

Johnny, I had been giving serious thought to contacting Mr Weinstein, I think the hold up is getting myself mentally prepared for what's to come. They say repercussions are illegal...but that certainly doesn't mean they don't happen, they just aren't owned up to!

Natalie, To the best of my knowledge, you can only use the "I affirm" option when asked if you "Swear or Affirm"..it wasn't even an option to me. My choice to stay in has become more to finish my degree and to help give others a more positive outlook on things...and of course feeding my family. However, I can tell you that I was way more 'patriotic' prior to becoming a service member. Seeing some of the blatent cover ups is repulsive at best. Now with this said, there are some very amazing and intelligent people I have served with. I've had some bad experiences, but that by no means is meant to imply that there aren't some great men/women serving and doing the right thing.
Comment by Frank on May 17, 2009 at 3:38am
When I re-enlisted it just kind of mumbled that line, but I was doing a group re-enlistment so nobody noticed. Recently I I took the Army's Human Resources survey and they asked me at the end of the survey if there was anything else I would like to bring to light, and I wrote that a paragraph how the Army has no right to be a Christian organization, because they are not respecting the rights of people of other faiths or no faith.
I would think that they would start cleaning this up after all the trouble they are getting in over religious freedom. It's sad, but the truth is you have to decide is it worth your career. We all know that it gets quite political the higher you climb.
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 17, 2009 at 3:52am
Glad you are finding some good support and ideas, Mrs. Kell.
Welcome to T/A!
Comment by Misty: Baytheist Living! on May 17, 2009 at 6:13am
Natalie Phox-
First off I'd like to say that you are of course entitled to your own opinion.
Secondly I'd like to say that your opinion might be more easily discussed if you started your own blog or forum post for it instead of hijacking someone this one.
The intention of this particular blog is to help another atheist find a resolution to a problem that is a conflict with our governments separation of church and state. Your last comment has a very high potential to deviate away from that theme and start on another entirely, causing confusion, cross posting and take away from the authors intended plea for help.


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