The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition, a conservative umbrella group comprised of organizations that support faith in the armed forces, hopes a new billboard will inspire Air Force cadets to utter “So help me God” when taking their annual Honor Oath.
The billboard, which is strategically located near entrances to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., encourages cadets to exercise their religious freedom and takes aim at recent events that have been perceived by some critics as crack downs on the religious rights of cadets.
The ad, which will be posted for two months, features an image of Mount Rushmore, with overlaying text that reads, “Are you free to say ‘So help me God’? They did.” The quote references the oath of office historically uttered by U.S. presidents, as Charisma News reported.
This same language was, until recently, traditionally uttered by cadets, though the Air Force Academy made the words “So help me God” optional last October after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a church-state watchdog, complained that the mandated language was unconstitutional.
Now, the Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition is hitting back and hoping that the billboard delivers an important message to the 4,000 cadets at the academy.
“The message is clear, our Founding Fathers said ‘So help me God’ on taking their oath of office; Air Force cadets have that same freedom,” Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and a member of the coalition, said in a statement. “Our billboard is a reminder that cadets can say the phrase, which is deeply rooted in American tradition.”
Crews added that past presidents have uttered this oath as and that Air Force cadets should be encouraged to do the same.
As TheBlaze has reported, the history behind and origins of the “So help me God” phrase are heavily debated, though modern-day presidents have consistently used the wording in uttering their oaths.
The decision to post the billboard comes just weeks after controversy surrounded a Bible verse that was removed from a whiteboard outside of a cadet’s dorm room at the academy.
Featured image via Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition