In yet another step towards “fundamental transformation,” President Obama’s given an exemption to any newly naturalized citizen, who takes the oath of allegiance, to omit the lines requiring them to bear arms, or do non-combat duties, on behalf of the U.S. when required by law, based on religious belief or conscientious objection. Furthermore, objectors don’t have to be a member of any church or organization or provide any proof or attestation of these beliefs qualify for exemption.
In April, the Task Force on New Americans submitted a plan to Obama that identified ways to weave naturalized Americans into their communities, such as encouraging new Americans to take part in volunteer work.
The principles embodied in the Oath are in Section 337(a) in the Immigration and Nationality Act, which provides that all applicants shall take an oath that incorporates the substance of the following:
Support the Constitution; Renounce all allegiance to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which the applicant was before a subject or citizen; Support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Furthermore it requires the person taking the oath bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; or do non-combatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; or do work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law.
Unfortunately, starting July 21, 2015, new guidance (PA-2015-001) in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Policy Manual clarifies the eligibility requirements for changes to the Oath of Allegiance: “Candidates for citizenship normally declare that they will “bear arms on behalf of the United States” and “perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States” when required by the law.”
“A candidate may be eligible to exclude these two clauses based on religious training and belief or a conscientious objection,” it continues. “The new guidance clarifies that a candidate: May be eligible for modifications based on religious training and belief, or conscientious objection arising from a deeply held moral or ethical code.”
“Is not required to belong to a specific church or religion, follow a particular theology or belief, or to have had religious training in order to qualify,” the new guidance policy declares, adding, “May submit, but is not required to provide, an attestation from a religious or other type of organization, as well as other evidence to establish eligibility.”
Newly naturalized citizen are still required to affirm, “so help me God,” – at least for now.