By Stephen Losey
An atheist airman who must take a reenlistment oath concluding “so help me God” or end his Air Force career would have better luck enlisting in the Army, Navy or Marine Corps, which allow soldiers, sailors and Marines to omit the phrase.
Air Force officials have said “so help me God” is a required part of the oath, spelled out in Title 10 USC 502 that governs military reenlistment. The Air Force is asking the Defense Department’s general counsel for a legal review of the rule, and said its opinion will help inform future decisions.
The other branches of the armed forces, which are subject to the same statute, have a different interpretation of the requirements, spokesmen for the services said Sept. 10 and 11. Soldiers, sailors and Marines may choose not to say “so help me God.”
And a Pentagon official said the issue is settled — and the Air Force is wrong.
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