Garden City, NY

AU received a complaint from a woman seeking a modified Oath of Allegiance for Naturalized Citizens because she had religious objections to pledging to bear arms on behalf of the United States, to using the term “oath,” and to swearing “so help me God.” The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services required her to provide a letter from a religious organization certifying membership in good standing in order to qualify for an alternative oath. Our complainant could not obtain that certification because, although she is a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, her church requires baptism for membership, and she had not yet reached the stage in her religious training for baptism to be appropriate. AU wrote CIS a letter in May 2008 explaining that federal regulations require the administration of an alternative oath to religious objectors upon request, regardless of whether the objector is formally a member of any religious group. CIS sent our complainant an invitation to a citizenship swearing-in ceremony without saying whether she would be allowed to take a modified oath, so we sent a follow-up letter in July. In August 2008 CIS confirmed that it was allowing the modified Oath of Allegiance, and our complainant is now a U.S. Citizen.