Atheist immigrant to be awarded citizenship following public outcry

By Eric W. Dolan
Thursday, June 20, 2013 20:05 EDT
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (AFP)
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A woman who was nearly denied U.S. citizenship over her lack of church membership will soon be naturalized thanks to a public outcry, according to Divided Under God, which first reported the story.

The immigration office in Houston had informed Margaret Doughty, 64, that she would need to provide proof of membership in a church if she wished to gain conscientious objector status. Doughty, an atheist, had provided the immigration office with a secular rather than religious explanation for why she objected to war.

In response, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association and others sent letters to the immigration office demanding Doughty be granted conscientious objector status. The office withdrew the request on Thursday and approved her application.

“The Constitution requires that secular beliefs and religious beliefs be treated equally under the law, and we’re pleased that officials at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have reversed course and recognized this,” Bill Burgess, attorney for the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, said in a statement. “We hope Margaret Doughty’s case ensures that non-religious applicants for U.S. citizenship are treated fairly.”

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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