Woman Being Denied Citizenship Because Her Morality Doesn’t Come From Religion

Margaret Doughty, a 64-year old woman from the UK who has spent the past 30+ years in the U.S., is in the process of applying for United States Citizenship and happens to be an atheist. She is currently a permanent resident running non-profit adult literacy organizations, doing her part to enrich the lives of American citizens. In the process of applying for citizenship, all candidates are asked if they’d be willing to take up arms in defense of the United States of America.  Ms. Doughty responded,

“I am sure the law would never require a 64 year-old woman like myself to bear arms, but if I am required to answer this question, I cannot lie. I must be honest. The truth is that I would not be willing to bear arms. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms.  I deeply and sincerely believe that it is not moral or ethical to take another person’s life, and my lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me a duty of conscience not to contribute to warfare by taking up arms…my beliefs are as strong and deeply held as those who possess traditional religious beliefs and who believe in God…I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.”

Despite being an atheist, Ms. Doughty was told that any conscientious objection must be based on religious grounds, not simply moral objections. So as someone who was not religious, and didn’t believe in a god, she had no basis for objecting. Her statement has been denied and she has been informed that to move forward in the process she must submit a letter from the elders of her church to prove her conscientious objections are religiously based.

The USCIS has told her,

“Please submit a letter on official church stationery, attesting to the fact that you are a member in good standing and the church’s official position on the bearing of arms.”

She has been given until June 21st to show that her objection is religiously-based, or her application will be denied.

This is not the first time a non-religious person has raised a conscientious objection to joining the armed forces. In fact, related issues have gone to the Supreme Court and have been ruled in favor of the non-religious objector.  In Welsh v. United States, Elliott Ashton Welsh refused to take up arms on a moral objection rather than a religious one.  However, under the Universal Military Training and Service Act, one could only object to joining the armed forces based on a religious conviction involving a Supreme Being. The Court agreed that Welsh could be considered a conscientious objector based on his personal moral grounds, and that the exemption being purely religious was a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

It appears that Margaret Doughty is facing a very similar First Amendment violation. As a conscientious objector to war, she is basing her position on her personal ethical code rather than a religious one. The response from the USCIS suggesting her claim must be based on religion is the same sort of First Amendment violation we saw in Welsh v. US.

Please join us in spreading the word about this case so that we can fight discrimination against non-believers. Coincidentally, Ms. Doughty’s stepson is Chris Johnson, a New York based photographer. He’s working on a book called A Better Life, which aims to shine a positive light on atheists by featuring 100 nonbelievers who found joy and meaning in their lives without god.

UPDATE: This story has been sent to CNN as an iReport piece. Please help to get this featured on CNN by following the link and voting!  Margaret and I thank you!!  ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-991030


Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

View all posts by Kevin Davis →

245 thoughts on “Woman Being Denied Citizenship Because Her Morality Doesn’t Come From Religion

  1. This is typical of this screwed up country. We give citizenship to people who come here from countries that are in turmoil who later kill and mame people with bombs but we won’t let a 64 year old woman who is an atheist who doesn’t believe in killing others? She’s too old to serve in our military anyway.

    1. Because willingness to defend the country you want to become a citizen of is a requirement for naturalization. Welsh vs US does not apply. Being an Atheist has nothing to do with it. Look up the naturalization eligibility requirements and you will see that applicants MUST be willing to support and defend the US and our Constitution.

      1. No, the naturalization requirements says that you CAN be granted citizenship on that basis, not that you WILL be. Conscientious objection is allowed, but not guaranteed.

      2. I think the practise of common sense is a great thing! just do that! will you send your grand mother to war? she offered to be supportive and fight as a civilian!! how much more a 64 can do!!!??? honestly!!!

      3. James, did not read the letter from the USCIS requesting a letter from a church? Atheism has everything to do with it, whether or not she would be granted, she can only move forward if she’s part of a church.

      4. Can’t really believe someone is defending this policy, and of course her being an atheist has everything to do with it!

      5. Just because this is codified into naturalization processes it in no way is ethical or right. We have freedom of religion as well asnfreedom from it elsewise we are a theocracy.

      6. I agree with Sean. Do tell us more about your Facebook membership in “Candid Upskirts,” and the legalities involved. Do tell us how violating the privacy of your fellow citizens for your lonely, pathetic, masturbatory purposes is a virtue.

      7. Hmmm…since our ‘leaders’ are destroying the country with their selling out to Big Money,Agra, Pharma and of course the Military/Prison/Industrial complex this argument is, as usual, only for the ‘little people’ who might not agree to be the compliant sheeple the rulers want. Welcome to the Stassi States of Amerikkka!

      8. Technically you are only slightly right, basically they are saying “you cannot become a citizen unless you are willing to bear arms… unless your religious belief forbids bearing of arms”. Yes it is true that she could earn citizenship via saying she would be willing to take arms without claiming to be a religious person, but that doesn’t change the unfairness of exceptions granted to religious that are denied to non-religious. It is as though the people enforcing the law cannot comprehend the possibility of a non-religious reason to oppose killing people over ideology. Especially considering the same lawmakers will claim non-religious grounds for opposing stem-cell research, abortion etc… Which while these topics do have non-religious based complaints, I would say all of them are drastically less common than opposition to war.

      9. You are so right. The fact that they even ALLOW someone to become a citizen after saying no to the requirements baffles me. This guy was trying to help her become a citizen by telling her she could ask a church or religious institution (person of high moral standing) to sign her off even though she didn’t wanna follow the rules, and she goes to the news about it?

        Imagine it were the other way around, I go to England and they ask me to pledge allegiance to the Queen of England and her heirs, etc. which is required to become a citizen, and I say no because pledging allegiance to the royal family goes against my morals. Do you think they’d even let me get around that? No.

      10. The president of this country doesn’t support or defend the Constitution! Prayer is not allowed in schools but you have to go to church to take a moral stand?

      11. It’s crazy that is a country with the developed world’s greatest gun crime rates that doesn’t let you become a citizen if you don’t want to kill people with guns…

      12. James I am a Christian And believe in the almighty. Who are we to judge? This 64yr old woman states she would willingly step up and help support in any other role. I also feel Moral objection is a belief for Atheists.

      13. But willingness to defend the country is NOT required for citizenship. They have clearly stated that they let it slide on religious grounds.

    2. The ruling is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment, which forbids discrimination based on “race creed color or place of national origin.” This is creed. If she persists, it will be overturned, period.

      1. My limited reading is a ‘creed’ is shared by a group. The examples are religious groups which have a shared belief. That said, atheists as a group do not share a creed other than the do not believe in God (regardless of capitalization). So she is not being denied as an atheist. But rather her own specific belieft that she cannot pickup a gun for the US in a time of war. And non-citizens have exact same rights as citizens except for voting in Federal elections and becoming US president. EXACT same rights according to the INS. How does the NSA resolve that issue when spying on green card holders?

      2. No, Dave, the Constitution and its amendments apply to every person in this country, whether citizen, resident alien, tourist or illegal alien. The Constitution is the law of the land and the law applies to all on U.S. soil.

      3. Last I checked, conscription was no longer in effect in the USA – it hasn’t been since (if memory serves) 1974, so why the nonsense about a 64 year old woman objecting to military service? You Americans are truly one screwed up nation.

        fbcooper, you do realize you contradicted yourself when you stated “atheists as a group do not share a creed other than…”? [*face-palm*]

        [from dictionary.com]
        creed [kreed] /krid/
        1. any system, doctrine, or formula of religious belief, as of a denomination.
        2. any system or codification of belief or of opinion.
        3. an authoritative, formulated statement of the chief articles of Christian belief, as the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, or the Athanasian Creed.
        4. the creed, Apostles’ Creed.
        Origin: before 1000; Middle English crede, Old English crēda < Latin crēdō "I believe"; see credo

        I draw your attention to definition item number 2.

        Notwithstanding the other religious oriented definitions of "creed", they are not wholly exclusive to the word. Atheism IS a belief & an opinion. As such, it IS a creed. That atheists do not form places of ‘worship’, register as tax-free business havens where televangelist pastors amass huge tax-free fortunes by encouraging the gullible sheep to send their life-savings for ‘guaranteed’ free-pass access to the ‘pearly-gates’ should not exclude them from their constitutional rights to be guided by their own ethical/moral convictions.

        That the state of common-sense law in the ‘land of the free’ fails to recognize the freedom of individuals to hold an ethical objection to war (& military service) without having to belong to a recognized, organized “religion” is clear violation of constitutional privilege. Of course, Americans routinely point out that resident non-citizens (or even visitors to your country) are NOT protected by the US Constitution (& thus not entitled to its privileges), speaks to the exclusive cowardly & hypocritical nature to which the Constitution of the United States of America is ‘interpreted’ & applied in contemporary times.

        As a counterpoint example, the constitution & Charter of Rights & Freedoms of your neighbour to the north (Canada) guarantees the rights & freedoms of “everyone” – citizen & non-citizen (foreign-national) alike. No one who enters Canada can be denied due process or protection from/by the Canadian Constitution & the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. You cannot be denied citizenship if you have an ethical objection to war, or military service – least of all, to someone 64 years of age who would never be called upon for military service. An obligation to military service is not a requirement for Canadian citizenship – committing to respect & obey the laws of the land & participating our democratic institutions & processes are.

        The intent of the founding fathers of the United States & its constitution was IMHO to be interpreted broadly & inclusively – not to be interpreted narrowly & exclusively in the manner in which your current petty & vindictive judiciary, lawmakers & bureaucrats chose to apply it. You’ve become a nation not of freedom-loving, but of freedom-denying. There’s a word for that, it’s called fascism. In this case it borders upon theocratic fascism.

        What next, requiring prospective citizens to become members of a recognized religion [oops, I guess you already do if someone can’t object to military service on the basis of their atheist convictions & ethics] & a paid member of either the Democratic or Republican parties (not to mention a WASP)?

        So much for ‘land of the free.’

        1. Thanks for your comments. I am trying to say that the atheist ‘creed’ is limited to not believing in God. Based upon all the thumbs down, I could have been more clear that I was really responding only to the issue of the 14th Amendment and ‘creed’ for an atheist. She is not being denied citizenship due to the atheist ‘creed’. If atheist also had a more extensive ‘creed’ that also forbade any atheist from serving in the Armed Forces, she would then be able to defend her position that under the Constitution, she need not serve in defense. However, that is not part of the ‘creed’ of being an atheist. In short, the atheist creed is very limited as a rejection of a specific belief. And I was trying to point out that, if true, there is no violation of her Constitutional rights to follow her own ‘creed’ – but it must be based upon that specific system of beliefs, not just her own personal beliefs under our laws.
          Her other beliefs such as not wanting to serve is therefore an individual belief and not part of her ‘creed’. There are many individual beliefs that we all can hold but also, we can run into legal problems. One may not believe that the Government has legitimate power to tax, but then one must also understand the consequences of following that belief. Check on Wesley Snipes. If she wants to declare her own personal belief is sufficient to overcome existing naturalization law, she probably needs a good lawyer. I am not sure there are many good lawyers that work on immigration law. Usually people affirm this specific statement in order to finish the naturalization process. Some have reservations as in this case, but they do not choose this moment to object to this oath. I am not trying to defend the oath. I think it is very difficult to change an oath of naturalization, and in today’s world, it would probably become even more questionable as to whether it would truly reflects all the values of citizenship. If a new citizen is later faced with a war that they object to serving, there is still a process under conscription to file objection to being drafted. The oath was put in place to ensure new citizens put the US before their birthplace. Since the US seems to invade countries on a regular basis, there is always going to be a personal conflict for naturalized citizens, let alone the rest of us. One can always object to conscription. Or, as some have done in the past, one can leave the US to avoid the draft.
          As she is a 64 year old woman, if we were drafting her into the US Army, that meant something very very bad is facing our country and these legal issues would be of lesser importance than whatever was happening that required her conscription. That said, the INS is not likely to set precedent on conscientious objector for her just because of her ‘creed’ – which as an atheist, has really no bearing on this particular part of her affirmation.

      4. I am not sure what ruling you are referring to, but if you mean the determination by USCIS that she does not qualify for citizenship, it is not a violation of the 14th Amendment for a number of reasons. This is not to say that the decision is morally or logically correct. Because issues of immigration and naturalization are considered to be essential elements of sovereignty, they are outside of the scope of the limits imposed by the Constitution. While the 14th Amendment does protect her from unreasonable discrimination by a state (including based on the fact that she is a permanent resident and not a citizen) when it comes to Congress and naturalization, they can do whatever they want. For example, they can make a law that says people of Asian descent can’t become citizens. It may be sick and wrong, but that doesn’t make it unconstitutional.

      5. That’s not what the 14th Amendment says.

        To Dave – you are incorrect. Only where the text of the Constitution specifically refers to “citizens,” do the rights it protect only apply to citizens, such as the right to vote, or hold Federal office. Rights belong to the people, regardless of their nationality.

    3. One does not have to be in the military to raise arms to defend this country, nor be a part of a citizen militia, one just needs to admit they’d be willing to defend this country in any manner possible, including raising arms. I don’t expect her to serve in the military, just be willing to defend this country any way possible. If she is not willing to try to protect this country, we don’t want her. If she is not willing to protect this flag, it’s people, and it’s lifestyle… we don’t want her. Better to let her go back to wherever she came from and let them deal with someone who is such a pacifist that I’d be the first one to throw her to the enemy. I served in the military and I’m over 60. My shotgun sits at the ready, and I’ve memorized every dirty trick from the ENGLISH anarchist cookbook that I can remember. I understand the absolute need to keep church and state separate, and accept her right to be an aesthesis. I don’t understand how one can want to live here but not be willing to defend that lifestyle. This person will never be a true American.

      1. Wow, that is just incredibly narrow minded of you!
        She’s not willing to go and carry out warcrimes in foreign countries to protect a lifestyle. America is the single greatest military power in the world, do you really think that a 64 year old woman should feel obliged help. And who is invading the US? Aliens?
        And wow, Jesus was a Pacifist! Would you be the first one to throw him to the enemy?

      2. Are you ready to throw pacifists who happen to already be citizens in the same country to your enemies as well? I appreciate your service to this country but I have to say I have a problem with your stance on this. How many people have come back from wars mentally and emotionally unstable? I don’t have any specific numbers or personal experiences but PTSD is a legitimate problem some face because of taking the lives of others. I find it reprehensible to belittle someone who has genuinely thought about the action and how they feel about it and has the courage to admit it. Also people pick which violent and nonviolent parts of their religion they wish to follow anyway. Case in point, not everyone in any religion (except maybe Jainism) are all for or all against violence. People use their religion to justify how they feel about it in both cases. Some people just aren’t willing to harm anyone despite the circumstances. I don’t think whether or not you’re willing to harm others, even in defense of yourself or anything else, should matter in a citizenship test.

      3. “let her go back to wherever she came from..”
        So you didn’t read the article then? Or you had an inability to retain the basic information of where she came from?

        She has been here 30+ years and she runs a non-profit adult literacy organization. She is already helping our country by fighting the war against illiteracy. This has a much greater value than a 60+ year old woman agreeing that she is willing to fight in a hypothetical war. She also stated that she would be willing to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces when or if she were required to do so.

        Not that any of that is the point. The point is that if she belonged to an organized religion her objection would be considered but because it comes strictly from her own moral beliefs it is not being considered. That is ridiculous and discriminatory.

      4. Closed minded people like you are ruining this country and fueling more and more wars. Just a slave of this military system, brainwashed to defend a flag and a false freedom.
        Only think you can do is to hide behind a shotgun.

      5. I suppose you failed to read the article. Specifically, the part where she stated she would defend the country so long as she didn’t have to raise arms.

      6. We’d be happy to have this exceptional woman back on her own native soil, because if she had have committed her last 30 years combatting illiteracy HERE in the UK, then I have no doubt Her ‘maj would have honoured her in some way, probably with an MBE or a CBE for her exceptional work in the community. As for defending the nation, well I’m sorry but what the bloody hell are your armed forces for? This lady should be allowed to become a citizen of the United States based on the fact that she has no doubt helped thousands of people who were illiterate, and not be held to ransom because she is unable to voice her pacifism UNLESS it is under the guise of some biblical claptrap and it is signed off by some overpaid bloke in a dress, on headed church paper, which is a belief that she does not subscribe too.

        With people like you voicing such an insular opinion it’s no wonder that the US is falling so far behind us here in Europe in basic education, which is very much to the detriment of your own people, who should (based on how many resources you guys have) be number 1 in the world!

      7. Guðmundur, Jesus was NOT a pacifist.
        “Jesus Himself said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’” (Matthew 10:34-36). “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12).”

        Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-pacifist.html#ixzz2WOsTxBPh

        “He was not, and is not, a pacifist. Revelation 19:15, speaking of Jesus, declares, “Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3, & 8 say, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heaven…a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Daniel 9:26 says that “war will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Matthew 24:6-8 says, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

      8. I’d rather have people in this nation who are honest about their preference to be pacifists [Mennonite Amish for example] than the multitude who portray themselves as Rambos constantly at the ready to shoot some sheeet up but are nothing more than puffed chest posers who will be found to do nothing when the time comes to show what they’re really made of.

        What will all these gun slinging patriots do when the US Military , Police etc are sent into their backyard to unconstitutionally disarm them, their neighbors and round up and kill US citizens who are deemed ‘enemies of the state’ for refusing to go along. How many of these bellowing baddies do you suppose would take up arms instead of go along to get along? Not many.

        I suspect Janice here would not use her shot gun against the US military , Police or any of the other assorted auxiliaries. I suspect Janice will be among the majority of all talk no action who will instead support the traitorous troops and crooked cops.

        Janice might even get in on the action herself by being made ‘Chief of the Community Confiscation Collaboration’.

        ‘For her unwavering community support and tireless effort in snitching out her neighbors during ‘Operation Goosey Granny’ Janice was rewarded a third digit foam finger, a ‘We Love Are Freedumbs’ t-shirt/baseball cap set, a Patriotard cup cozy and last but not least her shot gun.’

        *somewhere in small town US a pick up truck comes up main street with an old woman in back holding a shot gun, waving a foam finger and hollering ‘Merica – Fuuk Yeah!*

      9. How can you say these things? Basically you have said you would willingly throw all pacifists to the enemy, whoever your perceived enemy is. So you wouldn’t lose any sleep over the enemy killing this woman for pacifism. You belong in Tudor times where you could be killed for just disagreeing with somebody in power. On the constitution, its time to change it! You shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a shotgun!

      10. You are the type of bigot that gives US citizens the kind of skeptical, suspicious reaction. Why do u need guns? Oh yes of course, so the teenagers and other disaffected people can go and mow down a load of people. As a 60+ yr old one would have thought u knew what liberal ideas and disarmament was all about. Guess u were in the ” all the hippies should be dead” faction. U r disgraceful

      11. What is an “aesthesis”? What is ” a true American” ? Hmmm, a bigot who hides under “patriotism” as their creed? Shoot first ask qs later? U e so sad Janice Speers, sad…….

      12. Perhaps you missed her saying “I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.” To me that indicates a GREAT willingness to protect this country. If she wants to be here, let her. She’s doing fantastic work and was honest. She didn’t say she wouldn’t protect the country, she said she wouldn’t take up arms. I can’t blame her.

      13. I assume you consider yourself a true American. What is it that makes it so, the shot gun or your bigotry?

  2. I am gobsmacked – speechless – without words.
    Deep breath…. I need to find a way to express how very frightening and surreal this is.
    Religion is man made. Morality, compassion and love are at the root of religions.
    Whatever way people can find – and show – morality, compassion and love surely that is enough.
    “Please submit a letter on official church stationery,attesting to the fact that you are a member in good standing and the church’s official position on the bearing of arms.” Oh please… I wonder how many anti war Americans could satisfy that requirement.

    1. All she has to do is contact the Church of Spiritual Humanism. She can become a member and/or an ordained celebrant of that organization, and be given the letter she needs. Or she can contact any of CSH’s ordained members – like myself – and we will happily give her that letter, on our “Church” stationery, outlining the numerous ways in which war and killing others goes against our sincerely held and long-established (see the Humanist Manifesto I, II, III and IV) beliefs.

    2. The problem really seems to be that the system is so bureaucratic that it cannot figure out what to do if specific forms are not signed. Because it relies on other people and organizations to pretend it can see into people’s heads, without an organization backing you, you are nothing.

      Sad thing is that this same problem was even greater during draft eras. People were forced to fight and kill (or be killed) if they had non-religiously linked moral opposition to weapons. Atheists die in foxholes. Conscientious objectors on religious grounds have not.

  3. //In the process of applying for citizenship, all candidates are asked if they’d be willing to take up arms in defense of the United States of America.//
    Not being willing to defend the country of which you are applying to be a citizen is certainly a detractor. Seeing it any other way is nothing more than idealistic garbage. 64 or not, the fact remains that she is unwilling to defend the country she wants to be a citizen of.

    1. She said she’d be willing to defend her country under civilian command and in any way that didn’t mean her, personally, taking the arms in her hands. Basically, we’ll waive the requirement if someone else imposed this anti-gun believe in you, but not if it you came up with it yourself. What a load of BS…

    2. The fact remains that routinely those who have chosen one belief or another are granted a waiver of this while those who do not have a belief because they don’t believe in some form of sky daddy are discriminated against.

      1. Not all religions stipulate a deity, anyway. For example, in its strictest sense, Buddhism is a non-theistic religion. Yet various strains of Buddhism also carry a strong pacifistic streak, and there are Buddhists who are conscientious objectors.

        I personally think the whole idea is ludicrous anyway, as she isn’t eligible for the draft (being female and 64 years of age), and we certainly don’t expect everyone who is a natural-born citizen to be willing to take up arms, regardless of their religious status.

        I’m a churchgoer myself (Unitarian-Universalist) and my faith happens to have plenty of humanist, atheist and agnostic members. We don’t have an official church position on whether or not one can or should bear arms — we leave that to individual conscience, as it should be — and I find it ridiculous to think that if I were in this woman’s shoes, I would likewise suffer discrimination on religious grounds.

        Those earth tremors emanating from the direction of Monticello? Thomas Jefferson doing about 78 RPM in his grave, I should think. New England might want to watch out, too.

    3. Do you have reading comprehension problems? If not, then try to read the article once more and read the replies on your repeated comments…

      “she has been informed that to move forward in the process she must submit a letter from the elders of her church to prove her conscientious objections are religiously based.”

      Was that difficult? Read it a few times and maybe you will get it. It is obviously about religion. I though anyone would realize that… 🙂

    4. Re-read. “I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.” I wouldn’t take up arms to defend this country against some pretend demon my government says exists in order to detract from the real issues going on. She is willing to help this country, protect this country, etc. So get over yourself.

      1. That does NOT guarantee that you will be granted citizenship. They can still be denied citizenship on that basis. That is why she will have to make her case. Arthur Jost v. The United States legalized citizenship for conscientious objectors. This 1954 Supreme Court case clarified that conscientious objectors CAN be granted citizenship and established the right of individual conscientious objectors to become citizens whether or not they belong to a group that supports their beliefs. CAN, not “will”.

      2. Once she makes her case, she will more than likely be granted citizenship, but pretending it has anything to do with religion is just sidestepping the real issue. The issue being that she is unwilling to defend the country and US Constitution and that is viewed as a detractor – and should be viewed as such.

      3. James, the way they want her to make her case is to have one of the many brands of sky daddy worship sign off on it. Since she doesn’t go to a sky daddy hut who will sign off on it? The presumption from the very start on this is that only religious people can get this exemption. Long story short you worship some form of sky daddy and refuse to acknowledge that there can be and is discrimination against those who don’t believe in your or others chosen life styles.

    1. Nobody said that if you object due to your religion you are guaranteed citizenship. We are saying that if you object based on religion, at least you still can be considered for citizenship. She isn’t even being considered because her morals didn’t come from religion. Her objection is not valid to them because it is not based in religious beliefs. She did not say she wouldn’t be willing to defend the country. She said she would be willing to to “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.” All she is saying is that she won’t pick up a gun in her own hands herself. Others have gotten approval for objecting based on their religion. She is not even being considered for approval because of objecting based on her own morals. “She has been given until June 21st to show that her objection is religiously-based, or her application will be denied.”

    2. Didn’t you read what she said?
      “I want to make clear, however, that I am willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction or to perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States if and when required by the law to do so.”
      You do understand that you need more than armed people in the army to defend your country, right?

    3. This is not about a willingness to defend your country. This is about a willingness to bear arms for your country. Those are two different things. The support troops that manage supplies, ammunition, and personnel are just as vital to our nation’s defense as those in combat arms.

    4. Bullshit. She clearly states that she’d defend the country in a civilian fashion, she merely refused to take a life. Would you be willing to claim that all military members who haven’t killed are traitors who aren’t defending their country?

  4. We who know there is no god also know that morality does not come from any religion but is a part of who we are as a society.
    Morality comes from evolving as a group living species. These are the rules that keep a group strong and successful. The morality of not killing your own kind or the members of your group is a universal moral, not a religious decree.

  5. The question here would seem to be whether the USA requires religious affiliation to take seriously a person’s moral objections to killing. This sounds to me like a violation of the separation of church and state. Would they accept a letter from a responsible person from my buddhist organization? What kind of religion does it have to be? I think this lady’s statement sums it up succinctly and she does not need some pastor somewhere to indorse her sincerity!

  6. Interesting that she is apparently an atheist. . . “My lifelong spiritual/religious beliefs impose on me. . . . ” etc. she does say that she doesn’t have a traditional view of religion or God. . . But does state she has lifelong religious/spiritual beliefs. . . . So, what I am getting at is, that it was based on her denial to bear arms, not on her personal beliefs – and it’s easy, all she has to do is write a less ambiguous application clarifying her position. . . . . I’m sure a letter from a JP or Judge or an approved statutory declaration would work as well. . . .

  7. All she needs to do is contact the First Church of Atheism. This is a licensed religious organization with over 7500 ordained ministers across all states that exists purely to grant atheists the same rights as religious people. Any of these ministers of the First Church of Atheism can provide such a document and have it be valid for US citizenship.

    1. It’s entirely possible to be both religious and an atheist. Buddhism does not stipulate belief in a deity, and neither does Unitarian Universalism (some UUs are theists and some are atheists; we accept both).

  8. Glad to hear there is something called The First Church of Atheism that is officially licensed for instances just such as this. I was thinking since Atheists have no “church” not to mention “official church stationary,” she could simply print up some her own “official stationary” entitled Church of the Mind and Heart of Margaret Doughty and submit that to them.

  9. I am a “minister” of the “Universal Life Church” whose creed is “Do that which is right”. I am also an ATHEIST (as was Kirby Hensley-the ULC founder). I will be happy to provide this U.S. citizen applicant a “letter of recommendation” on “official church stationary” as soon as she wishes.

  10. I’m outraged at this, the next step is stripping atheists born in this county of there citizenship. Like most atheists this woman is smart and articulate and our government wants a nation of ignorant and submissive people who question nothing. Is any freedom from religion organization providing legal services? If not is there a fund raising campaign?

  11. I’m outraged at this, the next step is stripping atheists born in this county of their citizenship. Like most atheists this woman is smart and articulate and our government wants a nation of ignorant and submissive people who question nothing. Is any freedom from religion organization providing legal services? If not is there a fund raising campaign? (edited to change there to their because a mistake like that drives me crazy…)

  12. Have her contact me (use the contact info I’m using to make this comment). I am an ordained Humanist Celebrant, via a Humanist “church” that is incorporated and established in Pennsylvania. Humanism is compatible with both atheism (in fact, most Humanists are atheists, or agnostic) AND conscientious objection (ie: the Humanist Manifesto II clearly states “war is obsolete” and lists a series of moral and ethical objections to all forms of warfare). I will gladly give her the letter she needs, and even testify for her if necessary.

    I recommend that you give her my information quickly, however, since she has only 6 days to present them with the letter.

    1. The problem is that she shouldn’t have to go through any church to get citizenship. Its a violation of the First Amendment for the government to support any religious group or force their citizens (or in this case prospective citizens) to join any religious group.

      1. You are right, Tyler… but I guess it depends on which is more important to her… obtaining her citizenship or fighting this injustice. If she just wants to get through the process and become a citizen, my suggestion could help her do that.

        If she wants to fight against this requirement for herself and all future citizenship applicants, then I and my organization, as well as every other Humanist organization in the world, will stand and fight with and for her.

        It’s also possible she may want to do both – get herself through the citizenship process AND fight against this idiotic question on the grounds that it not only violates the First Amendment but also is ridiculous on it’s face when being asked of a 64 yr old.

        But the choice is hers. I just want her to know there are organizations that can help her if she chooses to just get through the process.

  13. Why can’t she just go to her family and have a letter written from them, or an organization that she works with, redcross or whatever. They are sidestepping why can’t she?

  14. Moral beliefs are part of religion even for an Atheist. There are several types of Atheism, at least two that I know of directly forbid war.

    The government’s point is wrong, and based on years of prejudice by Christian Fundamentalism. I’m sick of my fellow Christians ignoring Jesus’ teachings about not judging others, and hating everyone.

    1. There are not “several types of Atheism”; “atheism” just means that one does not believe in a god. There are different types of “atheists”, but not categories of atheism. “Atheism” does not “forbid” anything. There is no dogma, no moral code (I’m not saying it’s IMMORAL, but let’s not ascribe laws to it that don’t exist). Please let’s not try to turn Atheism into another religion. (As an atheist myself, it’s a pet peeve when people talk about atheism as a religion – it’s simply the rational belief that god does not exist)

      1. I also want to add that a government should never rely on any Church to verify an individual’s commitment to his or her country. This is disgusting.

    2. Atheism is not a religion, it’s an ideology and we don’t have sects.
      My point is that atheists don’t have commandments banning this or that. There was no atheist Jesus. Actually, the more I think of it Jesus was a humanist if anything!
      Sometimes war can be inevitable like WWI & II, definitely not Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan, Terror, Drugs.

  15. If anyone read her whole reply you would know that she did state a willingness to serve in the military under other positions. So she didn’t say she wouldn’t serve her new country if asked to do so. This is absolutely a violation and based on religion. What ever happened to freedom of religion in this country? Even if the person has no religion it’s still a moral belief. She’s too old to bear arms anyway! What has this country come to? It’s a shame really!

    1. What this country has come to, is what it always has been: a bunch of terrifyingly narrow-minded, paperwork-obsessed literalists running the place, who put weirdly specific language (“Take up arms?” Really, in 2013 defending your country is ONLY about guns?) or bizarrely incongruent A/B choices (Either you are independently willing to kill for the country, or your Church decides you’re unwilling for you) in required bureaucratic documents, then when it’s pointed out that the language is irrational or discriminatory, instead of amending it they DEFEND it.

      What scares me the most is that the person who “graded” her answer most likely could not see anything wrong with his reasoning, and probably thought in all sincerity that her answer was deviant and evasive, rather than the startlingly rational, heartfelt and honest response it really was. And it saddens me to think of this, when of the people who DO say they’re willing to “take up arms” in our defense, maybe one in ten even mean it in the first place, and not one in 100 give anywhere near that kind of conscious thought to the meaning of their own citizenship. I’d be surprised if one in 10,000 actual citizens does.

  16. One more reason not to become a citizen of the United States. At her age, why bother hassling with nutty bureaucrats, politicians and their nutty ‘laws’. It’s a waste of precious time.

  17. This frustrates me on so many levels that I can’t even form words. Why do people insist that morality only comes from religious belief, when there is so much evidence of immoral behavior that comes from religious people. I’m done with this insanity.

  18. Why the hell would any citizen of the British Commonwealth want to give that up for this corrupt banana republic of, by, and for the ultra rich? It makes no sense.

  19. This is outrageous! I am sending the story to Mr. Welsh who may be able to intervene. When the National Constitution Center opened its doors, I began protesting the first display that people see when they enter the exhibition room. A giant screen shows how people who apply for citizenship are gathered together in one room for confirmation. The oath ends with “So help me God.” Those of us who have read the United States Constitution are fully aware that oaths do not require that ending and, in fact, the Constitution states that “no religious test” is required. Visitors to the National Constitution Center who see this film are left with the impression that a belief in God is mandatory to hold citizenship — after all, everyone had to say the word — didn’t they? The truth is that the ending was added on and is un-Constitutional. This misrepresentation must be stopped. The God fervor has spread and now (as exemplified in this story), religious expectations are demanded. Citizenship is dependent upon it now as this issue has gone unchallenged by too many. I had a friend from Poland who refused to say an oath to God and he was denied citizenship. He fought for years and finally was able to overcome the wrong. When Christopher Hitchens started the process, I told him the story about my Polish friend Kaz. Hitchens said he would let me know if there was any trouble. Suddenly, it was announced in the newspapers that Hitchens was now a citizen. I called Hitchens and asked if he had been required to say the oath with the dreaded ending. He told me that he could not remember, as the day was a blur. Now this story appears. I must contact the woman highlighted. If anyone Ms. Doughty’s contact information, I would appreciate having it. My email is: Margaret@FtSociety.org

  20. She should become a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and get her letter from a minister of that church, like me.

  21. Sadly, if this is the law, this is the law. Morality should not come from a 501(c)(3). But if these dumb laws are in place and the Congress does not want to change this, there is Unitarian Universalists.

  22. One thing I’m not seeing come up on the comments, is that even if she were religious, wouldn’t mean she would be allowed in. Conscientious objector status is very rarely allowed. It doesn’t work to simply be a Christian. The church you belong to has to be old and established and part of its doctrine for generations. It’s for Amish and Mennonites, and now Buddhists. Pretty much everything else isn’t allowed.

    1. It’s just so profoundly WEIRD that they’d be so specific as to say that you have to be willing to “take up arms”, i.e. kill, for your country, on the citizenship test. How archaic is that? You can’t be willing to take up a support role, as many good, red-blooded citizens do during wartime, or be a medic, or any other number of ways one could show true, unwavering dedication to their “new” country in a time of need. No, you have to be willing to actually pick up a gun — or a knife? or a good heavy rock? How obviously and sickeningly obsessed with violence are we?

      And everyone involved’s nose is buried so deep in bureaucracy that they can’t see how her answer is *better* than their question.

  23. This has turned my stomach. I will also be applying for citizenship within the next year and had no idea that I will be asked this question. I can either lie, or answer truthfully much the same as this woman, although probably less eloquently.
    I am a British citizen by birth. The notion of ‘taking up arms to defend my country’ is not only completely preposterous, it certainly wasn’t a condition of my being born in England any more than it is for US citizens born in the US.

  24. This is not about religion.
    If an applicant rejects the responsibility to violently defend America, then they are subject to a means test that is obviously dated and flawed.
    If every applicant accepted a non-combatant role in our defense, there is none. Simply stated, application denied. No exemptions allowed. How demeaning to think 60 and 70 year olds are useless in our nation’s defense? Obviously, “take up arms” can be construed or implemented to each’s abilities.

    1. Try reading the article. There ARE exemptions allowed, it states that quite clearly. The fact that her conscientious objection is not based in a religion is the ONLY reason that her application is not being considered further. So, how, exactly, is this not about religion?

    1. She clearly states that she is willing to serve in a noncombatant role. Would you suggest that those military members who haven’t killed aren’t defending their country?

    2. Maybe we should stop letting those citizens who are incapable of reading comprehension STAY here. That would do far more for this country than keeping this woman from becoming a citizen.

      Go back and read the article again… she is ALREADY HERE! She has been here, LEGALLY, for more than a decade. She is just trying to go from legal resident to citizen. It’s a change of status, not a change of location, and if you understood what you read, you would know that.

      Furthermore, the idea that they are even asking this question of a 64 yr old woman is ridiculous on its face. No one is ever going to ask her to take up arms to defend this country… not even if we were invaded (as if any enemy COULD invade us without being destroyed at the border).

      Furthermore, being a “conscientious objector” should not depend on one’s religious beliefs, but on one’s CONSCIENCE (as in the root of the word “conscientious”). You don’t need a higher moral authority to think that killing people is wrong, and you don’t need a “God” to tell you that either. If anything, atheism is proof that one does not have to believe in a fantasy sky daddy in order to be a good, honest, ethical and moral person.

      Grow up, and get an education. Maybe then you won’t make such a fool of yourself.

      1. Maureen Mower- I like the majority of your reply, – however, hearing you say that, and act as if the united states is all that and all powerful makes throw my head back and laugh.
        Your country really is not all that it acts up to be.
        Homophobia, sexism, violence, war, youth shootings, racism and the death penality proof EXACTLY THAT.

    3. William Faust- you might want to try how to grammatically correctly spell before you voice such an outrageously ridiculous stupid comment.

      1. Just a note: That’s the Unitarian Universalist church website, not the Universal Life Church. But UUism also includes many who are conscientious objectors, and does not stipulate belief in any sort of deity.

  25. This is legally unsound. During the 60’s, the status of Conscientious Objectors was thoroughly debated. Precedent stated then that the basis of CO status should be predicated on a system of beliefs that were as important to the individual as traditional religious beliefs were to others.

  26. In keeping with my standard practice of questioning whatever “facts” are presented to me, I am disappointed not to be able to find any source beyond this article for corroboration. I’ll be keeping my eyes on the media for any future development.

    1. A Google search with her name and you do get the website for the literacy program that she heads, Literacy Powerline, as well as her personal Facebook page, which as been active since 2007, long before her issue with trying to obtain citizenship. In her recent posts she has included links to this article and another, a request to FB friends for help support and advice on this situation and there have been responses from people whom she knows. I agree with questioning facts and am not saying that confirmation of the literacy program or her FB page is all the proof that a questioning person needs but it certainly lends credibility to what has been written for those who like additional confirmation.

  27. She should go to any Unitarian Universalist church or fellowship. You don’t have to have belief in any god to be a member. Also, if I recall correctly, they do support conscientious objector status. Good luck!

  28. I’m not defending this issue, but this is reality. And reality is that arguing MORALITY arguments is an arbitrary, non-existent position in reality in this context. Let me explain. Defending your position with a LIVING BREATHING CHURCH ORGANIZATION backing your claim puts the govt in the position that they denied your application and the organizations standing also. But if you have a morale stance the govt just denies you, the person.

    Bureaucratically its easy pushing away one person and their “personal individual ideas” (which are intangible) off a cliff. It takes a lot bureaucratically to find the energy to push away a whole institution (which is a bunch of people) THAT stands for an intangible idea that is shared by not just that institution but possibly even more people even if they’re unaffiliated with that particular institution but share its values.

    This is the difference.

    When atheism can band together more cohesively to be a force to be reckoned with, this will not happen anymore. The problem is atheism and morales are not well understood. The same can be said about religious morality but thats at least KNOWN. People assume that you do good with Jesus. The most evil people think they’re doing good if its in the name of Christ.

  29. http://www.venganza.org/ Situations like this are best fought with satire imo. The church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may be able to help. I’d bet they’d be happy to get her an official letter from them stating this is in fact a religious objection .

  30. I appreciate the discussion, everyone, keep it going! It’s great to get varying points of view. Please feel free to subscribe (top left of the screen), and follow on Twitter @dividedundergod and Facebook facebook.com/dividedundergod (also on left side of screen). Thanks again!

  31. What’s the name of that church that picket funerals of gay people? Yes, a church is a trustworthy source as a character witness.

  32. I am a Christian and I think this is wrong. A moral objection is all anyone should need to govern their actions. If leaders of my faith asked me to do something I found morally objectionable, I would have a crisis of faith, not morality.

  33. They act as if believing in a god is the only way a person would have morals. I know many atheists with better morals than Christians. As a natural born member of this country, I too would never bear arms because I believe killing in any form is wrong, even killing an enemy. I guess they can just come and get me and kick me out of the country. I’d like to see them try.

    1. Then you’re not terribly aware, as the US Constitution most certainly DOES apply to non-citizens. It applies to everyone who is a legal resident in the US, as you ought to have learned in any basic Civics course at the junior high or high school level.

  34. I say… Go to the Church of Google
    (Yes. It actually esists.)
    And ask them for a doctors note to curte this illness.
    In other words… Stupid beyond belief. that this requirement even exists if you ask me.
    All you’d have to do in my opnion is to ust NOT break the frikking law of the country you’re moving to. I mean. What are my reasons for moving there? If it is just for a job, and I still love my homecountry, but this is a job I cannot afford to pass up for whatever reason. How could the US trust me if it were to go to war with my homecountry.
    Theres so many buts and what if’s to such a hypothetical scenario of a possible war.
    Just get it out already. It’s just a silly requirement.

    1. Steady Paul! This so-called “subject” IS requesting UNITED STATES citizenship, a process, which I believe WILL eventually be proceeded to, now that we atheists have our dander up, and will begin STALKING the appropriate authorities accordingly! Remember also, this “subject” will be apparently VACATING her UK citizenship, since she clearly sees that the USA is offering her something, that being a “subject” of the UK does not. Maybe that is the issue. “Citizenship” (theocratic brueacrats notwithstanding!), or “Monarchal Subjugation”, something we YANKS gave you Brits the finger over in 1776! 😉

  35. I, personally, believe that it is ridiculous to refuse anyone citizenship not only because they object the idea of war on non-religious grounds but they object to war in general. No person, whether religious or not, should be denied because of their OPINION on whether or not they are okay with killing people in “defence” of a country that already violates its own Constitution.

  36. Why does she even have to take a written test in the first place? None of the illegal aliens who have been grandfathered into citizenship in the past or the millions more who are currently demanding citizenship have to take this test.

  37. Completely unconstitutional, besides being hypocritical. If they actually made their decisions based on the scripture they claim to believe, then they would welcome her into our country with open arms. Besides that, all wars are bankers wars. Why would anybody knowingly take up arms for bankers?

  38. This is typical of what the U.S. is becoming. First it’s illegal to do what they are stating and I can’t figure out why they would want somebody that believes in a imaginery ghost in the sky to get into the states. Theres plenty of room there. I left some time ago cause it’s going down soon.

  39. If that’s the attitude they have towards you, why wouldn’t you just leave? Its not like she is from a 3rd world country or anything. If something like this happened to me, I would just leave.

    1. Did you miss the part where she has been here for over 30 years? While she didn’t come from a 3rd world country, I hardly think that just tossing in the towel and giving up the life and relationships that she has taken half of her 60 something years to build is an acceptable answer. I don’t know about you but I would consider my last 30 years an investment that is worth fighting for.

  40. Yes well, Janice Spears bigots often clothe their inflammatory comments in “patriotism”. It is no big surprise that as a general rule Americans are usually viewed with suspicion and skepticism. What the hell “Better to let her go back to wherever she came from and let them deal with someone who is such a pacifist that I’d be the first one to throw her to the enemy. I served in the military and I’m over 60. My shotgun sits at the ready”. Sad

  41. I’m sort of amazed at the number of commenters who think the USCIS ought to just waive the requirement, effectively amending the law. There’s a reason we have a government in which Congress writes the laws, the courts bounce them off the Constitution and interpret them, and the Executive is limited to enforcing them. Whenever we’ve given the Executive branch the authority to amend or re-write the law (think of the various times Congress has handed its Constitutional authority to declare war over to the president), things have not ended well.

    I wish her luck, but accept that for the good of the nation, she’s going to have to either lobby Congress to amend the law, or take a case to the Supreme Court and change the interpretation. Asking the unelected bureaucrats at USCIS to unilaterally amend the law just moves the nation one step closer to dictatorship.

    1. The courts have already ruled on this years ago, and their ruling favors this woman even though the case which brought it about was someone else’s. The problem here is that someone at UNCIS is apparently unfamiliar with this fact.

  42. Reblogged this on Transhumanisten and commented:
    In 1978 I think it was, I applied for a visa to the U.S. at the embassy in London, as I was there at the time with my English girlfriend. We’d been travelling to a lot of countries and for years I had no permanent residence, so officials at the embassy figured I just might stay in the U.S. and a visa was denied. Then a miracle happened. I started lecturing the guy who was about to give me back my Danish passport and told him in no uncertain terms what I thought about.. , – well, I basically got my point across, that Carter’s campaign for Human Rights apparently did not appy to friendly Danes, which, in my opinion, was rather hypotritical.. – The guy behind the desk appeared astonished and then took my passport back and asked me to wait a minute and disappeared. A couple of minutes later he came back, and I could hardly believe it when I saw that visa in my passport ! – I don’t know if there’s a morale to this, but it came to my mind when I read this story about a 64-year old women, who is being denied U.S. Citizenship, for reasons you will find out when you read this article.

  43. Why, in God’s name, would you want to become a U. S Citizen in this day and age of INTERNATIONAL TURMOIL and invasion of privacy; lack of jobs; lack of respect for the individual, Sky High Student loan Interest rates and on and on

    1. She has been here 30 years and wants to become a US citizen at age 64. Why would be social security and medicare I am sure.

  44. According to Immigration regulations and interpretations this judge was wrong:
    “Grounded in religious principles, as construed by the Supreme Court.”

    [The Supreme Court] held that a conscientious objector status under the conscription law may not only be based upon sincere, deeply held beliefs having their origin in traditional concepts of religion, but also upon beliefs which are purely ethical or moral in their source. [The Court] makes it abundantly clear that a basic policy of our law is to recognize and protect sincere, conscientious beliefs which are so premised, and to construe statutory provisions in a manner which will achieve that purpose.

    (USCIS Interpretation 316.1(h)(3)(iv))

    I recommend she contact the Center on Conscience & War which has dealt with these issues for more than 70 years. Bill Galvin is especially experienced. bill@centeronconscience.org. http://www.centeronconscience.org.

  45. What’s insane is that the INS is saying that conscientious objection must be religious, but the United States Military says otherwise.

    “Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don’t have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man’s reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. In general, the man’s lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims.”

  46. If anyone knows Margaret Doughty and can put us in touch with her – please do. I’m a senior staff member of the Universal Life Church Monastery, a church and non-profit organization. We would be happy to write her a letter of religious exemption to meet these requirements. Please email martin@themonastery.org

  47. As an ordained minister with The True Followers of Jesus, I deem Margaret Doughty, the 64 year old in question, to be a member of my congregation by the fact that she is a member of the human race and I attest to her contention that she is a conscientious objector and should be allowed to become a citizen of the United States because of her loyalty to the United States and her willingness to serve as a non-combatant if she is ever so needed.
    Rev. Timothy Rodemann

  48. while I myself am a Christian, I don’t believe the government is suppose to tell who you are to worship or NOT. I have my own problems with some of how America is run but I will support it to any other nation. While fellowship with others in a church in helpful in building relationships and learning, it is not necessary for a religious life. Some are not able or choose not to attend or are inbetween churches. these various reasons can cause people to not qualify as well. It is better for someone to have their own personal moral/ethic beliefs than to follow churches anyways. she will always have her own choice but may change to another church very easily.

  49. To quote one of my university days heros…

    >There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!<

    Mario Savio

  50. She is not being denied citizenship because her morality does not come from religion. She is being denied citizenship because she refuses to take up arms in defence of the USA, one of the requirements the nation has every right to make. There are plenty of people whose morality does not come from religion who would be permitted to become American citizens, it’s just that there are also some religious people who are permitted to do so with fewer obligations attached.

  51. Some idiotic Big-Brother advocate has said above that he is baffled that they even allow someone who does not meet the ‘requirements’ of citizenship to enter this country as citizens, even though the above case has been presented to him. As soon as we (as a country) respect a fiat merely because it was passed into law, even when said order conflicts with reason, we debauch the constitution which founded this country, and which calls for reasonable debate in order to create a reasonable legal code. What we have erected now is theistic inanity, and issues like the one written about above will continue. Take religion out of the picture!

  52. There are many athiests at my Unitarian Universalist sanctuary. Perhapse she could find and seek out help from her local UU leaders. One of the core teachings of the faith is the inherent worth of a human life. I’m sure they could get her the fancy document that the government requires, and she might make a few new friends. I wonder if there is any ways to convey this information to her.

  53. fbcooper. Wow- all I can say to your last reply is – DAMN DO I EVER FEEL SORRY FOR YOU. Clearly, with the fucked up laws and government the usa has, that place is a shithole- they still also value the death penalty- after all. How sick and evil is that, to force a 64 year old woman to pledge to the army- and one of the worst i have seen and heard of too. YOUR GUYS LEGAL SYSTEM SSSUUUCCCKKKKSSS . AND- your country clearly is one with a love for war, discrimination, hatred, vengeance, ignorance, brainwashing, assumption, judgment, racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse, and most of all, VIOLENCE. I.e – your country’s media lets violent movies pass, – however, any movies with the slightest bit of romance, love or nudity is banned and forbidden- how pathetic is that.

    1. Lisa – thank you for your opinion. Yes. Its SO SAD that our laws are , well, just that, laws. Written by humans. Not perfect. Not from the hand of God. Just laws. They can be changed. Unfortunately, often by corporate interests, not as often for human interests. Happy for you that your country, wherever that is, is so much better…for you.

  54. Good. Pacifists are of a weaker fiber than regular Americans. And I don’t want them in MY country. We have too many as it is.

    1. Psychotics are destroying the goodness of “regular Americans.” And we can’t survive with them in OUR country. WE the people have too many of them to defend against as it is. WE have to shine over your shit so the rest of the world doesn’t just flush us and watch us go swirling. Oh, and you are giving us a hell of a time. It is hard damn work making this Country seem great, with the excrement we have to clean up. A 64 year old women, that pretty much states that she doesn’t like guns, but would assist those that like to murder people, has your panties in a bunch. YOUR country, isn’t THIS country. YOUR country is fictitious; it is a figment of your own sadistic imagination. And it sure as hell was never imagined as a reality for this country, by our forefathers .

  55. Most of the “legal” federation of the USA is founded on religion… The courts and judges, most legal institutions are based on colleges and universities that are founded by and supported by churches and religious organisations… As long as that is in status, the whole system is corrupt and therefore evil… – God

  56. This woman is being denied citizenship BECAUSE she REFUSES to take part of the pledge to DEFEND this country if called upon during an act of war. She has been TOLD that joining a church and being made an offical objector based on her conscious is a way around this. THAT is all! ACLU is saying she should be an exemption to the law.

    1. Right, but the point is, why is it fair for there to be an exception for religious people, but not for an atheist. If there were no exceptions, then that is fair, it wouldn’t be discrimination for citizenship. When you give an acception, but only to a certain group of people… that is discrimination.

      Lets make a hypothetical fraternity here, Lets say they had a rule to join where you had to, oh chug salt water, or some random embarassing act to join, and a second clause that said, “if you are white, you may opt out of this requirement”. Would that fraternity not be viewed as racist by quite a few people? I mean, technically they aren’t keeping minorities out… they simply are requiring everyone to follow a set consistant rules… Well everyone except one group, which is given an option to get an exception… A group that happens to be the majority.

      Either the exception should not exist, or the exception needs to be available to all.

  57. This is cooked up,
    please research “USCIS – Naturalization Oath” and you will see listed in #5:
    A. Bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; or
    B. Perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; or
    C. Perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.

    The key word is “OR”. That is why I think this story is a lie, because generally everyone can see the difference between the words “OR” and “AND”.
    If she was told that she was denied, than the person telling her is lying about the process and needs to be corrected/fired/prosecuted . The oath is not the issue, here.
    But then again, I think all of this story is fake and is used to embolden those who are against religion. . . . hence the name of this website.

    1. Alexander, this is certainly not fake. Take a look at citizenship form N-400 and you’ll see the question about bearing arms is specifically asked in the form. Also, this story has been picked up & published by the Huffington Post. CNN is also looking into it, and she has interviews scheduled with FoxNews, BBC, CBS, and Cox. Sorry that you find it so hard to believe, but I don’t publish lies.

  58. Since my youth I have had a firm, fixed and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or in the bearing of arms.

    Comments:Was it because her morality doesn’t come from a Church which is why her application was rejected?I noticed more and more people are getting illiterate in USA.Her deep convictions was,she doesn’t believe in Armed Forces,though she was willing to perform non-armed services.

    What was the core of American values,and Laws,the necessity of Armed Forces,which has been part of the Governments functions,and she rejected the Governments main policies,which was American Laws,how is it that one can deduce on matters into her moralities whether it come from a Church or not ,as a basis of the rejection?

    Churches are very part of American culture,and for one who needs her testimony from a Church,and to know about her moralities,were legitimate questions and evaluation,unless one pretends American culture does not honor the Church.

    She is no American citizen,why accord her American Rights and argue from that perspective,isn’t that Straw man?

    I think people just had become outright dishonest,and mischievous,trying to misled the public on a simple accounts,to blow it out of balance,so as to despise what Americans holds dear,and that is Church.

  59. It is possible to have a “conscience and morals” that do no derive from the baffle-gab of an organized religion. Many of the fouding fathers did not participate in organized religion and according to some of these folks could not qualify for citizenship. Very odd.

  60. Holy Crap!! But we let 16 out of 17 Egyptian hijackers in on 911..who did a superb job in the name of Allah…what moral ethics are based on RELIGIONS. Holey Shit!!

  61. I am amazed as a disabled atheist US Navy veteran of seventeen years service at how many people claim the Constitution and its amendments only apply to US citizens. Nowherest in the Constitution is the word “citizen” used, except in the XIV Amendment where a citizen is defined. The Constitution throughout uses the word “person.”

    I would much rather have as a fellow citizen someone who has arrived at his or her moral and ethical convictions through reason, rather than because someone behind a pulpit told them so, or because they tried to read a book written thousands of years ago and misunderstood what it really says (because of two thousand years of mistranslations).

    And I challenge anyone to question the idea that an atheist with sincerely held ethical beliefs is somehow less moral than the Westboro Baptist Church’s members, abortion clinic bombers, slave holders of the XIX Century, all of whom claimed Biblical justification for their actions.

    Moreover, the law is clear: she does not have to be a member of “any” church. Not the UU Church. Not a Buddhist congregation. Not an atheist organisation recognised as a church. NO church.

    As an adult literacy instructor and town councilman myself, I applaud her for her contributions to the nation already as a literacy instructor attempting to uplift those around her. This is the sort of person her community and this nation needs: one who is willing to support her community, not someone who got a reference from Rev. Fred Phelps. (And after her help in literacy, her students can read the lunacy of his church’s signs at the protests of deceased veterans.)

    1. James, I agree with most of what your saying. I won’t get into a religous debate. I do agree that a moral and ethical person does not need to be part of anything and still believe this way.I respect her honesty. We need more like this Lady.

  62. The real difficulty here is that America is somewhat unique in the manner in which it makes decisions. For every situation we have created numerous slots within which we can (or are regulated to) drop each individual case. For this situation we may have slots 1 through 5, but this good woman requires a slot 6, which does not exist. So rather than someone having the ability to make a rather easy exception based on the current reality–she’s in her sixties, a woman, involved in providing a non-profit program to those who need it, and assisting America and Americans. The current methodology is enforced. NO SLOT SIX! Quick, someone get a rope!

    Frankly, this is a product of our attempting to rely on ancient religious values to run a country. Yes, this is a clear photo of America in general and as you might know, it is an abysmally incoherent way to run things. The sad reality is that Americans have adopted a “dumb me down” social standard called Christianity, and it is very effective.

    Christians cannot fully comprehend what a respected person of science might have to say, or factually determine the impact or meaning behind the words of a great intellect. Trained to follow the demands of their religion, they continue to remain in open denial of ALL contradictory concepts–regardless of reality.

    Trained since birth to be blind and faithful followers, Christians have little need to think, consider, or decide anything of a religious nature. Church training has provided their thinking for them and left them fearful of thinking for themselves.

    Such is the very definition and the absolute intent of brainwashing. It is also definitive proof that religious brainwashing is undetectable by the victim, dangerously effective, and that once established, produces an impenetrable cage around the mind, creating yet another easily directed, extremely ignorant, and very willing, rule following slave.

    No person successfully brainwashed has ever been aware of it–until they were recovered.

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