Two teachers in the California education system have been fired for their desire to amend an oath to the US Constitution which is required for public service jobs in California and some other states. Both are Quakers who wished to amend the oath to state that they would defend the constitution non-violently.

I'm not a huge defender of religion in general but I see no problem with people being able to practice their religion. Quakers are probably the least offensive Western Religion there is being extremely non-violent and not at all into prosyletizing. In this case the oath itself makes me far angrier than any religious questions. Here is the full text:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely,without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well andfaithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.

The oath was instituted in 1950 during the height of McCarthyism to thwart communists from infiltrating the government. given that McCarthyism was an embarrassment to the US and it's contitution I am a bit flumoxed as to why this oath is still around. With terms like "defend...against all enemies foreign and domestic" it sounds very militaristic and feels like it could imply servitude through violence in certain situations of crisis. I certainly wouldn't want to sign it.

It also appears from the articles that the state can't figure out whether amending the oath is even legal and application and enforement is, of course, left up to individual institutions. My guess is that Berkeley doesn't take this one to seriously.

The most incredibly ironic thing about this whole controversy is that non-citizens are not required to sign it. Says Marianne Kearney-Brown, one of the fired teachers, "The way it's laid out, a noncitizen member of Al Qaeda could work for the university, but not a citizen Quaker."

Wendy Gonaver, the second fired teacher, makes another astute point, "It makes no sense that they do this to people," she said. "It's people who take it seriously who don't get hired."