Even though there has been an increase in atheism throughout the West, a Gallup poll taken in 2013 says that the USA is still a religious nation with about 7 in 10 Americans classified as very or moderately religious.
Until recently the US Air Force allowed troops to take the words "so help me God" out of their pledge so when an unnamed airman tried to re-enlist, he wasn't expecting any trouble, he thought he would be allowed to take a "secular oath." But he was shocked to discover his application was rejected and now the American Humanist Association is involved and acting on his behalf.
Monica Miller, a lawyer for the Association wrote a letter on 2nd September 2014 demanding that he be allowed to re-enlist without the religious reference and threatened legal action against his commanders at Creech Air Force Base in the Nevada desert.
Ms Miller wrote "The government cannot compel a non-believer to take an oath that affirms the existence of a superior being." She also pointed out that last year, the Air Force refused another service member to re-enlist for the same reason but reversed their decision and let him take a "secular oath."
"We'd rather not take this to court" Ms Miller said. "We think it's a pretty straightforward issue..... probably they were following policy, they just need to realize that the policy can't be applied in an unconstitutional fashion."
So should there be humanist alternatives to church in basic training? One Air Force officer said "My preference is a live-and-let-live culture, where faith or non faith is part of your identity, and you respect the same in others by not using force or position or favouritism to advance your cause - I think most Air Force people are this way."