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Controversial Margaret Doughty, Atheist Seeking U.S. Citizenship, Told To Join Church Or Be Denied

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Tejwant Singh, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Margaret Doughty, Atheist Seeking U.S. Citizenship, Told To Join Church Or Be Denied

    The Huffington Post | By Nick Wing
    Posted: 06/19/2013 11:36 pm EDT | Updated: 06/20/2013 12:36 pm EDT

    Margaret Doughty, an atheist and permanent U.S. resident for more than 30 years, was told by immigration authorities this month that she has until Friday to officially join a church that forbids violence or her application for naturalized citizenship will be rejected.

    Doughty received the ultimatum after stating on her application that she objected to the pledge to bear arms in defense of the nation due to her moral opposition to war. According to a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services by the American Humanist Association on Doughty's behalf, officials responded by telling her that she needed to prove that her status as a conscientious objector was due to religious beliefs. They reportedly told her she'd need to document that she was "a member in good standing" of a nonviolent religious organization or be denied citizenship at her June 21 hearing. A note “on official church stationary [sic]" would suffice, they said.

    Here's how Doughty explained her refusal to sign the pledge:

    “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.”

    Doughty's reasoning is perfectly valid, atheist groups have argued in response to the rejection threat. The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Citizenship and Immigration Services, calling the government request "illegal and unconstitutional."

    "It is shocking that USCIS officers would not be aware that a nonreligious yet deeply held belief would be sufficient to attain this exemption," Andrew L. Seidel, a staff attorney at Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote after laying out a list of Supreme Court tests that suggest a rejection would be unusual and improper. "This is a longstanding part of our law and every USCIS officer should receive training on this exemption ... Either the officers in Houston are inept, or they are deliberately discriminating against nonreligious applicants for naturalization."

    The American Humanist Association later followed suit, urging the agency to back down or face litigation.

    A petition supporting Doughty's quest for citizenship has also been launched at Daily Kos. As Raw Story reports, Doughty took to Facebook this week to thank people for their support.

    “Over the past two days not only good friends but people I don’t even know have sent notes of support,” she wrote. “They are people with a wide range of beliefs, beliefs that I respect -- Christians, Moslems, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics and others. I think that is part of what has always appealed to me about America -– that people of all beliefs can live together accepting and respecting each other and working together for the common good.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/margaret-doughty-atheist-citizenship_n_3469358.html
     
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  2. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    The part that I don't understand... and I read the article twice. Conscientious objector status is , or at least used to be, granted by way of a review board hearing. Perhaps with the end of the compulsory registration for military service the review boards were dissolved. I will look that up. However, one of my brothers attained and has CO status and it did come by way of a rigorous interview by a panel of local officials. I don't remember the official title.

    Ms.Doughty may actually be the unintended victim of the end of compulsory registration for military service.

    WoW I have to look further. There is compulsory registration for military service called Selective Service in the US but only for males between ages of 18 and 26 http://www.sss.gov/default.htm

    On the web site, immigrants are informed they must register to protect their right to citizenship. Another WoW. If Ms Doughty were a male, she might have a different path to CO status. I will keep looking because this is really fishy.
     
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    #2 spnadmin, Jun 20, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2013
  3. spnadmin

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    Yes. indeed there may be a gender issue. I am not going to post the entire page from the Selective Service Administration, but here is the link

    http://www.sss.gov/fsconsobj.htm

    This entire document is written in terms of "he." As a alien, if Ms.Doughty were a male, and she wished to become a US citizen, she would be required to register with Selective Service as a potential candidate for military service. That in turn would enable her to apply for CO status, which would be granted by a review process much like that my brother experienced. The web site explains all of that.

    However, Ms. Doughty is a female. She is not required to register for Selective Service. Therefore, there is no Selective Service policy that covers her situation: immigrant desiring US citizenship and female. She is in a Catch 22. How did other women in her situation handle this? Did they sign the pledge to serve knowing that they would not be called up anyway, or be required to register with Selective Service, making the pledge a moot point?
     
    #3 spnadmin, Jun 21, 2013
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  4. Tejwant Singh

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    It is pathetically unfair and arrogant on our Government's part to put it lightly. It seems more like an Islamic State for women which is unjust.

    Or call Mitt Romney.:) The Mormon Church is the best place for the sake of any refuge which is normally temporary. Many people here in Vegas do that quite often.
     
    #4 Tejwant Singh, Jun 21, 2013
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  5. spnadmin

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    Mitt Romney Uggggggggh

    I am considering writing to the org that is representing her to ask if they noticed a gender bias in the law. It might be easy to overlook after being buried in the procedures for a) deciding whether one has to register with Selective Service as there is a mountain of exceptions; and then b) figuring out the lingo on getting CO status. All they can say is they looked at it.

    Another gender blind strategy would be to find out when she entered the US for the first time as a resident alien. If I read the documentation correctly -- there is an age-cut off for exceptions for aliens and a variety of citizen categories. Again, the regulations are only relevant to men because only men have to register. If she does fall into one of the exempt male categories, then as a female there too she has been discriminated against.

    I am getting tongue-twisted.
     
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  6. Tejwant Singh

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    One wonders what happens to the immigrants who are JW's! Do they take the pledge to bear arms just to get the citizenship?

    Oops!!

    They embrace their own religion in order not to be bare. My bad. Nice loop hole the same way the orthodox Jews have.
     
  7. spnadmin

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    Actually, according to my reading which indeed could be wrong. If they are males, they register and they apply for CO status through the review board, presenting their case as Jehova's Witnesses. If they are women, they would not register, but would be able to prove membership in a church that does not advocate military service. The problem arises for women who are immigrants and hope to gain citizenship... are not church goers ... or do not belong to a church that advocates against military service. A Baptist or a Roman Catholic female would have the same problem as an atheist because their is no procedure for a female to register with SS, making it then impossible to apply for CO status in the same way that males can do.

    Just a note on the review board as my brother experienced it. He did not use membership in a religion as his reason for appeal, nor was he asked to do so. The documentation indicates that. A male who asks for CO review can present strong moral or ethical reasons to be considered CO. A female does not have the option of presenting a moral or ethical case. Therefore, for an immigrant female seeking citizenship all options are shut down if she is not a member of a particular faith (e.g., Quaker, Mennonite, Amish and others like that).
     
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