U.S. Air Force Academy debate over the Honor Oath’s use of “So help me God” got kicked up a notch when a religious group unveiled a billboard near the academy’s Colorado Spring’s entrance.
Are you free to say ‘So help me God’?” the Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition’s billboard asks, with an image of the famous faces of Mount Rushmore in the background. “They did.”
The clear reference to the presidential oath of office was designed to support cadets who want to use the traditional phrase in taking their oath.
The academy has been roiled in controversy over the question of whether students should be allowed to write biblical or Koranic verses on their doors’ whiteboards, after one student was “convinced” to remove a quote from scripture from his apartment door, TheBlaze reported.
The squabble began in October, when the church-state watchdog group Military Religious Freedom Foundation argued that requiring “So help me God” was unconstitutional, and claimed that 29 cadets complained over religious quotes posted on other students’ whiteboards, according to TheBlaze.
A backlash immediately ensued. The Family Research Council’s Jerry Boykin, a retired lieutenant general, said in a statement that the freedom to write on the whiteboards “reflects that the cadets understand the Constitution and have a greater faith in the Constitution than their leaders.”
Coalition member Alliance Defending Freedom’s executive vice president Gary McCaleb said that “suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an iron curtain or in a dorm hallway,” and has no place in the Air Force, TheBlaze reported.
The coalition rented the eye-catching billboard for two months.
“The message is clear,” Ron Crews, executive director of coalition member Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said in a statement. “Our Founding Fathers said, ‘So help me God’ on taking their oath of office; Air Force cadets have that same freedom.”
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