Atheism - Secularism

Atheist seeking US citizenship sues to remove ‘So Help Me God’ from oath

A French woman seeking to become a US citizen, has filed a lawsuit to remove the phrase “So help me God” from the oath of citizenship because she is an atheist.

Olga Paule Perrier-Bilbo, 48, a French national and green card holder, has been living in Scituate, Massachusetts, since 2000. She is determined to forego her French citizenship and instead became an American, but claims the oath she needs to swear violates the US constitution.

“By its very nature, an oath that concludes ‘so help me God’ is asserting that God exists,” reads her lawsuit, filed before a federal court in Massachusetts.


“Accordingly, the current oath violates the first ten 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.”



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The ten words she refers to in the lawsuit against the US Congress state that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

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MassLive.Com said Ms Perrier-Bilbo was offered the chance to use a modified oath or participate in a private citizenship ceremony. However, she has claimed the mere presence of the words represent an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion. She has said the alternatives offered to her by the government place an illegal burden on her for her beliefs, it said.

One of Ms Perrier-Bilbo’s lawyers is Michael Newdow, who in 2000 failed when he sued his child’s school district to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

He also filed unsuccessful lawsuits to remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from American currency and prevent “So help me God” from being included in the Presidential oath of office.

Neither of Ms Perrier-Bilbo’s two lawyers were immediately available for comment.


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