Last summer, 64-year-old Margaret Doughty was denied citizenship in America because she was an atheist.
The issue involved the part of the citizenship application that asked if she would “take up arms in defense of the United States.” Doughty had answered:
… 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…
This was basically a conscientious objection to fighting based on her moral beliefs. But the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told her that “conscientious objections” had to be made on religious grounds, not moral ones.
After a lot of media attention, and with the help of Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Doughty’s status was quickly changed:
“This Service hereby withdraws the request for evidence (RFE) issued on June 7, 2013. This Service accepts your detailed statement in satisfaction of the information requested by the RFE. Your application for naturalization has been approved.”
You’d think, after all that, that this sort of story wouldn’t happen again. Unfortunately, it has, this time in California.