Atheist Immigrant Wins Citizenship Despite Anti-War Beliefs


But she has no church, or religious affiliation, and wasn't sure how to handle the predicament. She decided to take to Facebook to ask around for help, and soon was contacted by several legal support groups, including the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Appignani Humanist Legal Center (AHLC) in Washington.

Both of these organizations spoke up on her behalf. On June 17, attorneys Monica Miller and William Burgess of the AHLC wrote a letter on Doughty's behalf to the USCIS, outlining that she meets the status for a conscientious objector -- specifically, 8 USC § 1448, which states that "a conscientious objector 'who shows by clear and convincing evidence … that [s]he is opposed to the bearing of arms … by reason of religious … belief' may omit the pledge from her oath."

The Supreme Court has in the past included secular moral beliefs in these instances, they wrote.

Today was the deadline for Doughty to show that her objection was religiously based, but she received an email Thursday afternoon from immigration services, saying: "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."

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has not responded to telephone and email requests for comment.

The agency offered no apology, she said, but is allowing her to move on to citizenship. She will attend a ceremony where she will become with a U.S. citizen next week, alongside her best friend.

"I am delighted with the outcome," Doughty said. "I'm incredibly pleased that I wasn't persuaded to just say it was OK."

"If these organizations had not come forward and drafted their outstanding letters, and explained the law and prior cases and outcomes, if that hadn't happened, if the media hadn't picked up on it, it may not have happened," she said.

"It's the power of the people and the power of the press that made this happen."

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