Margaret Doughty has been a permanent citizen in the United States for three decades but after she applied for US citizenship after many years of working as an advocate for literacy, the 64-year-old Englishwoman was at first rejected as a naturalized citizen because of her anti-war beliefs and lack of religion. However, Douglas has been handed a second shot at becoming a naturalized US citizen following a public outcry over the decision.
While filling out the forms for US citizenship Doughty found she was being questioned because of her response to the question over her willingness to bear arms for the United States. Despite an officer recommending that she say yes since she would never be called for duty anyway, Doughty said no, noting that she could not morally or ethically lie on the application.
Astoundingly, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services then made the bizarre decision to ask her to write a letter backing her position on official church stationery, apparently in a surreal display of belief that morals and ethics are exclusive to the religious. When the story went viral, the public and press response forced USCIS to withdraw their request and approve her application.
“The Constitution requires that secular beliefs and religious beliefs be treated equally under the law, and we’re pleased that officials at US Citizenship and Immigration Services have reversed course and recognized this,” says the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center attorney Bill Burgess. “We hope Margaret Doughty’s case ensures that non-religious applicants for US citizenship are treated fairly.”