Atheist Immigrant Sues to Remove ‘So Help Me God’ from Citizenship Oath
Veronica NeffingerReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2017 Nov 07
A French immigrant and atheist who is living in Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, arguing that the phrase “so help me God,” which is included in the oath to obtain U.S. citizenship, violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"By its very nature, an oath that concludes 'so help me God' is asserting that God exists," says the lawsuit, as reported by The Christian Post. "Accordingly, the current oath violates the first 10 words of the Bill of Rights, and to participate in a ceremony which violates that key portion of the United States Constitution is not supporting or defending the Constitution as the oath demands."
Olga Paule Perrier-Bilbo, who is filing the lawsuit, claims that the oath is prohibiting her from becoming an American citizen because it violates her religious beliefs, or lack thereof.
Perrier-Bilbo is filing the lawsuit despite the fact that she was given the choice of using an alternative phrase in a private citizenship ceremony. She argues that “so help me God” shouldn’t be included in the U.S. citizenship oath at all.
Erwin Chemerinsky, who is a First Amendment expert and a dean at Berkeley Law, said it is unlikely that Perrier-Bilbo will be successful in her case. "Courts generally have not been receptive to this in the context of the Pledge of Allegiance,” he said.
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Publication date: November 7, 2017