Margaret Doughty was a permanent resident of the United States for 30 years and applied for U.S. citizenship after years of working as a literacy advocate, according to ABC World News. The Englishwoman, 64, was initially rejected as a naturalized citizen for her lack of religion and anti-war beliefs. Following a public outcry, Doughty was given a second chance to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
While filling out the appropriate forms at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, Doughty was questioned for her response regarding her willingness to bear arms for the country. Doughty said no, even though an officer recommended that she say yes because she would never actually be called to duty. Doughty explained that she refused to lie on her application and noted that her decision was based on moral and ethical grounds. USCIS officials she would be required to submit a letter on official church stationary in order to back her position.
“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.”
After the story went viral, the press and public sent letters urging the office to accept her application based on her moral decisions. On June 20, USCIS officially withdrew the request for religious proof of her beliefs and her application was approved, according to a follow-up report from Divided Under God. Doughty is set to be naturalized on June 26, 2013.