Given the Supreme Court’s unequivocal instruction that, to be consistent with the Constitution, the government must interpret a statute permitting conscientious objection on the basis of “religious” belief to include comparable secular moral views, the USCIS’s demand that Ms. Doughty provide proof “on official church stationary [sic]” of her membership in a religious group or face denial of her application for citizenship is illegal and unconstitutional.
It is well established that the government cannot “constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different eliefs.”Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495 (1961). By demanding a letter from Ms. Doughty’s “congregation or other religious organization” to permit an application for citizenship to make a conscientious objection to participation in warfare, the USCIS’s has violated the Establishment Clause.
koavf: you're ignoring the plain fact that a number of religious persons don't believe in God. It's not just one guy in a basement somewhere with a blog, it's a lot. There is also no contradiction between being an agnostic and a theist. Or an atheist. Or being an atheist and being religious. Or being a theist and not being religious. Etc.
koavf: It does a disservice to those persons as well as to a discussion about these topics to collapse all of those groups into two opposing camps. The extreme form of this becomes "the fundies versus the scientists" or "God's children versus the heathen commies" depending on which type of mindless extremism you like more.
snuffleupagus: depending on the sense of 'religious' intended. Does it refer to behavior, or motivation? One can participate in "religious" activities and traditions, practicing the religion beyond mere belonging and attendance, but without any religious motivation or aim — perhaps enjoying a cultural attachment or satisfying a familial expectation — and still be an atheist. If your motivation is religious, I think that's usually another way of saying you have some level of belief, or are at least agnostic.
Davenhill: If the church-attending 'atheist' is also religious, then they aren't really an atheist and have incorrectly labeled themselves as such.
Quonab: I am both an atheist and a religious Buddhist. I believe in no god. You are seeing duality where it doesn't exist.
U.S. immigration officials have reversed their demand that an atheist woman applying for U.S. citizenship get a letter from a church to justify her request to opt out of the requirement that she “bear arms” in defense of the United States.
The reversal comes after Margaret Doughty, 64, was assisted by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center in her fight to defend her constitutional right to assert a secular moral basis for her conscientious objector status, rather than a religious one. Ms. Doughty has been a legal resident of the U.S. for over 30 years.
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