You won’t get me now or ever to swear on the Bible, the Torah, the Qu’ran, the collected works of JK or anything else.
My word is my bond. Simples.
I would shed blood, tears and toil to defend my village (on the outskirts of Manchester) and if people of any faith or none (such as me) bled, sweat and toiled with me to save my England and their England then I would gladly be at their side – regardless of their faith. Our country is far from ideal but it ain’t Somalia. And that is worth fighting for. I mean the only time I was a pirate was playing the Sid Meier game “Pirates” and that was on a Commodore Amiga.
I would try to avoid dying for my country* but if push comes to Noel Chavasse I’d like to think I would stand. I would probably be bloody useless on the frontline but I would stand. I’m more a backroom lad. But that is by the by and every spear needs a shaft. And I am part of the shaft.
Yes, I, un-baptised heathen though I am, would fight, kill and die for England. It is my country. And there are much worse places to come from. I could have been Yemeni – that would have been hilarity wouldn’t it?
I don’t believe in God (well I am a Spinoza-ish pantheist – sometimes) but asking me to swear an oath to God is just wrong. And it is wrong because the meat of it is swearing something I do believe in (such as telling the truth ot being a loyal soldier) but but swearing it by something I don’t believe in would make a total mockery of an oath I would wish to swear with utmost solemnity. Not least because if I went into battle I also wouldn’t want the person next to me to have sworn an oath he or she didn’t believe in either…
I don’t believe in God. I do believe in the defence of the Realm. If I became a soldier, sailor or airman why should I have to add on a belief in something I just don’t believe in and moreover would not that make my deep oath utterly meaningless? Anyhow, why can’t agnostics fight! Or atheists? Why does disbelief in God mean disbelief in everything?
* “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.” General George S Patton.