Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rodda: The Lies Used by Jay Sekulow to Defend an Oath Against Lying: An Open Letter to the Superintendent of the Air Force Academy

Writing at Huffpo here. A taste:
Optionally adding the words "so help me God" is, of course, anyone's right. These words, however, should not be a part of the official oath, where they inevitably lead to situations in which cadets are forced or coerced to say them. Therefore, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has demanded that the words be removed. This, of course, has cause a media firestorm, and even proposed legislation to prevent the oath from being changed. 
The defenders of "so help me God" are claiming that things like this were the intent of the founders and have deep historical roots, and, as expected are using quite a few lies about American history to support this claim -- ironically lying to defend an oath in which cadets swear not to ... um ... lie.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, using a source from HuffPo to buttress you loopy, revisionist nonsense.

You are really exposing yourself for what you are--a lefty moonbat.

(and no one--absolutely no one of any decency whatsoever--takes HuffPo for anything other than a viper pit of Marxist, Maoists and traitors to our entire civilization.)


You really should try some actual historical analysis rather than your usual sophistry and casuistry.

You have a neurotic problem with Christianity, and a completely bogus "historical" understanding of your nation--in fact it is not history at all.

Please stop whinging at decent and patriotic Christian.


You are the liar; you need to stop it. You are not fit to clean the toilets at the Academy.

"open letter" indeed. Such letter belong in the trash can, along with their authors.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Again,

It must kill you to realize that my understanding of this historical issue is to the RIGHT of the historical consensus in the Academy.

Tom Van Dyke said...

What you aren't told in the Huffington Post article is that right-wing advocate Jay Sekulow's brief notes at the outset that

No cadet is denied a commission as an officer in the United States Air Force because of his/her religious faith or lack thereof. No cadet is denied a commission because he/she
declines to recite the phrase "so help me God" affixed to the Honor Code. Even in the
examples cited in the previous paragraph where the identical phrase is used, persons who
object to the phrase are not required to say it.

[and further on that]

no cadet is compelled to recite the
phrase, and failure to recite the phrase results in no penalty. Second, the phrase
establishes no religion. In fact, the phrase is no more onerous to the Constitutional rights
of Air Force Academy cadets than is the phrase, "In God We Trust," on the currency they
receive in payment for their military service.



IOW, this is a phony controversy in the first place.

Neither are you ever going to get the full story from reading just one side, which is the problem with posting these advocate-written polemics uncritically. Rodda is correct on many of her peripheral arguing points, the same handful we read over and over again at not just her blog but ours about Kaskaskia Indians and such. But we never get both sides of any of these "controversies"--the reader is often left more in the dark than never having read about the matter at all.

wsforten said...

Chris takes an interesting position on this topic in that her interpretation of the religious test clause is in direct contradiction to the clause which precedes it. Here is the context in which the religious test clause is written:

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.

Now, an oath is by definition an appeal to God by use of words such as "so help me God." John Witherspoon defined an oath as:

An oath is an appeal to God, the searcher of hearts, for the truth of what we say, and always expresses or supposes an imprecation of his judgment upon us, if we prevaricate.

(http://books.google.com/books?id=M2gVAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA130)

To seek the removal of the appeal to God from the text of the oath is to make it no longer an oath. Chris is attempting to use the religious test clause to declare the Constitution itself unconstitutional.

As a side note, here is an interesting section on oaths from Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws:

The Effect of an Oath among virtuous People. There is no nation, says Livy, that has been longer uncorrupted than the Romans; no nation where moderation and poverty have been longer respected.

Such was the influence of an oath among those people that nothing bound them more strongly to the laws. They often did more for the observance of an oath than they would ever have performed for the thirst of glory or for the love of their country.

When Quintus Cincinnatus, the consul, wanted to raise an army in the city against the Æqui and the Volsci, the tribunes opposed him. "Well," said he, "let all those who have taken an oath to the consul of the preceding year march under my banner." In vain did the tribunes cry out that this oath was no longer binding, and that when they took it Quintus was but a private person: the people were more religious than those who pretended to direct them; they would not listen to the distinctions or equivocations of the tribunes.

When the same people thought of retiring to the Sacred Mount, they felt some remorse from the oath they had taken to the consuls, that they would follow them into the field. They entered then into a design of killing the consuls; but dropped it when they were given to understand that their oath would still be binding. Now it is easy to judge of the notion they entertained of the violation of an oath from the crime they intended to commit.

After the battle of Cannæ, the people were seized with such a panic that they would fain have retired to Sicily. But Scipio having prevailed upon them to swear they would not stir from Rome, the fear of violating this oath surpassed all other apprehensions. Rome was a ship held by two anchors, religion and morality, in the midst of a furious tempest.


http://www.constitution.org/cm/sol_08.htm#013

Tom Van Dyke said...

Chris takes an interesting position on this topic in that her interpretation of the religious test clause is in direct contradiction to the clause which precedes it. Here is the context in which the religious test clause is written:

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.


Heh. And of course as Art Deco pointed out "affirmation" was a sop to those whose religious beliefs prevented "swearing"--it had nothing to do with disbelief in God.

And as Sekulow noted above, there was no penalty for skipping the "so help me God" part anyway so we're into aesthetics at best and nuisance at most.

jimmiraybob said...

"...a sop to those whose religious beliefs prevented 'swearing'--"

The underlying principle was to make allowance for conscientious objection to being coerced in such intimate matters. The same principle that would cover not being coerced into swearing to God if you did not believe in God.

Who among the founders advocated for the state coercing private religious belief? Actual citations will be accepted.

Jonathan Rowe said...

There is big debate as to whether the Declaration of Independence is "law" at all. So take this with a grain of salt.

But B. Rush called PA's religious test that required belief in the divine inspiration of both Old and New Testaments a "stain" on the revolution.

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a6_3s8.html

Yet said test was replaced with a religious test that required belief in a more generic God, which didn't cause controversy because it represented an LCD among everyone. Even Thomas Paine who didn't believe in a word of divine revelation of the OT OR NT could support "So Help Me God."