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Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Featured, Society | 14 comments

History lesson: ‘so help me God’ did not come from the U.S. founders

Neither did “one nation under God.”

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Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, has weighed in on the case of the U.S. Air Force sergeant who has been told he can’t re-enlist because he refuses to pledge “so help me God” as he swears to uphold the Constitution.

According to Fischer:

Military service should be reserved for genuine Americans – and genuine Americans, like the Founders, believe in God.

History is not on Fischer’s side.

Here’s the original military oath, approved by Act of Congress 29 September 1789 (Sec. 3, Ch. 25, 1st Congress). It came in two parts:

I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States.


I, A.B., do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me.

Do you see the name “God” mentioned anywhere?

Neither do I.

In 2004, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas – hardly a bastion of liberalism or atheism – noted that “the Court has squarely held that the government cannot require a person to ‘declare his belief in God.‘”

That could be because the U.S. Constitution (in other words, the founders) takes a dim view of religious oaths (emphasis added):

Constitution, Article 6 – Debts, Supremacy, Oaths

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

And “one nation under God” wasn’t inserted into the post-Civil War Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950s, you know, the period known as McCarthyism.

So Mr. Fischer, stuff a sock in it.

You, too, U.S. Air Force leadership.

John Quincy Adams