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Fri Jun 14, 2013, 11:15 PM

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

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 INS 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.”

More:
http://dividedundergod.com/2013/06/14/woman-being-denied-citizenship-because-her-morality-doesnt-come-from-religion/

FWIW, my personal understanding is that in order to be a Conscientious Objector under the rules of Selective Service, your objection does NOT have to be religiously-based. Apparently, INS has a different standard?

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Woman Being Denied Citizenship Because Her Morality Doesn’t Come From Religion (Original post)
Ian David Jun 2013 OP
Phillip McCleod Jun 2013 #1
durbin Jun 2013 #5
SecularMotion Jun 2013 #7
dixiegrrrrl Jun 2013 #2
cynatnite Jun 2013 #3
TreasonousBastard Jun 2013 #4
Zoeisright Jun 2013 #6
ShadowLiberal Jun 2013 #8
Curmudgeoness Jun 2013 #9

Response to Ian David (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 11:23 PM

1. i feel like this should be cross-posted in 'religion'

 

this is egregious, unless there is much more to the story.

way more important than teh 911 memorial wreckage cross or whatever the huffpo groupthinks today.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 08:22 AM

5. Agree

 

Just do it!

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 02:13 PM

7. I posted it in Religion earlier before I came here and found it was posted last night

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Response to Ian David (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 11:46 PM

2. I can be against war because of religious reasons but NOT because of Moral reasons?

Oh man, I see a lawsuit here.



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Response to Ian David (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 12:33 AM

3. Someone is misleading her...

At least that's what it seems like to me.

Here is some info regarding immigration and conscientious objector status. SCOTUS has spoken on this.

http://www.mcc.org/stories/news/mcc-us-offers-guide-immigrant-conscientious-objectors

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Response to Ian David (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 12:54 AM

4. Well, SS and INS don't have exactly the same rules, but...

This, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientious_objector, roughly spells out the current Selective Service position as I know it. I was a Quaker draft counselor for a while years ago and things were never easy when dealing with real draft boards and real people, but there are general principles.

The INS is probably under no obvious obligation to adhere closely to draft board standards, but even the SS standards were subject to some inventive interpretation over the years. I don't agree with the INS and their treatment of this woman, but only an immigration lawyer would have a real idea how legitimate this stand is-- and the INS has far greater leeway with people attempting to become citizens than the SS has with people who are citizens. I worked with some AFSC immigration lawyers for a while and saw some really bizarre things INS was getting away with.


Current legal situation
See also: Conscription in the United States and New York Draft Riots

Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist, was the first of three conscientious objectors who agreed to serve in the US military in non-combatant roles and were subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military decoration

A 1971 United States Supreme Court decision, Gillette v. United States, broadened U.S. rules beyond religious belief but denied the inclusion of objections to specific wars as grounds for conscientious objection.

Currently, the U.S. Selective Service System states, "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for conscientious objector 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." Current Selective Service law requires and allows only registration. It does not allow for making claims of CO. The SS has stopped returning the registrants cards that hand write it on but they are simply registered in the system without note. In the US, this applies to primary claims, that is, those filed on initial SSS registration. On the other hand, those who apply after either having registered without filing, and/or having attempted or effected a deferral, are specifically required to demonstrate a discrete and documented change in belief, including a precipitant, that converted a non-CO to a CO. The male reference is due to the current "male only" basis for conscription in the United States.

In the United States, there are two main criteria for classification as a conscientious objector. First, the objector must be opposed to war in any form, Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437. Second, the objection must be sincere, Witmer v. United States, 348 U.S. 375. That he must show that this opposition is based upon religious training and belief was no longer a criterion after cases broadened it to include non-religious moral belief, United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 andWelsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333. COs willing to perform non-combatant military functions are classed 1-A-O by the U.S.; those unwilling to serve at all are 1-O.

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Response to Ian David (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 02:08 PM

6. That sick argument again.

Look, if someone behaves themselves only because of a threat, they are NOT moral. I grew up going to parochial school. Those little "Christian" fuckers were bullies, bigots, and complete assholes, even WITH the threat of hell. Atheists are naturally much nicer and 1000% more moral.

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Response to Ian David (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 03:37 PM

8. I don't see how that's legal from the 1st amendment

Specifically the line of

“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.”

There was a lawsuit about something kind of similar to this many years ago in California. California used to have a tax deduction for being clergy of any religion. Then some online religion (maybe the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an online religion that pretty blatantly made fun of religion in general anyway) started selling ordinations to their religion, under their belief that 'the benefits of being clergy should be available to all' according to their website.

Just pay them something like $20 dollars and they add you to a official list of their clergy members, and send you a certificate stating that you're clergy in their 'religion'.

A bunch of people started to buy those certificates and use them for the tax deduction in California. So California started suing people for tax fraud or something, stating that that church wasn't a real religion. The Court ruled that it's unconstitutional for the government to decide what is and is not a valid religion, because then a clever government could get around the 1st amendment by claiming that any religion is not a real religion. California repealed the tax deduction soon after that.

But bottom line, my point, I don't think their reasoning for rejecting that based on her religion or lack of it is legal. It would rely on the same logic that California tried and lost in court already on.

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Response to Ian David (Original post)

Sat Jun 15, 2013, 06:18 PM

9. INS is making much ado about nothing

since we are talking about a 64-year old woman. There has never been a time when someone that old was required to serve in the military, and there has never been a time when women were required to serve. So this is such a non-issue, I have to assume that they were just not pleased with this statement....and quite possibly other statements she may have made in answer to other questions that are not reported.

But I have to say that asking her for a church letter is over the top......maybe atheists do need a "church".

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