Moral Objections are Only for the Religious, According to US Immigration Services

In 2008, Adriana Ramirez, a thirty-something California resident, was officially declared a permanent resident of the United States. Like millions of immigrants, she wished to become a citizen. Five years later she began the process of making her dream come true.

Becoming an American citizen is not an easy process. The five year residency requirement only kicks in after a person has become a legal permanent resident — a process more complicated than naturalization. If they can afford the numerous fees involved in the process, which can total in the thousands of dollars, a person must also prove they are of “good moral character” (meaning no criminal record), be proficient in English and pass a test that includes questions that many people born and raised here probably couldn’t answer. They must also take an oath of allegiance to the United States and its laws.

Part of this oath includes being willing to bear arms if the country would require you to do so. While it is unlikely that most people would ever need to do so, the largely symbolic arcane provision is designed to reinforce the commitment to the applicant’s new country of choice and a renouncement of loyalties of their country of birth. Like those who are drafted into military service, however, applicants can conscientiously object to the provision.

Ms. Ramirez’s life has been dedicated to the idea of nonviolence. She co-founded a journal focusing on that and spent her life dedicated to building foundations of peace. So when it came time to check “yes” on her willingness to take up arms, Ms. Ramirez objected on moral grounds, indicating that she had “strong moral convictions against arms and killing people.” Like many others before her, she declared herself a conscientious objector.

Two weeks after her formal interview to establish her eligibility, Ms. Ramirez’s application was denied.

In spite of notarized statement explaining her position and stating that her “commitment to non-combatancy” was based on “deep moral conviction” and her request for “the U.S. government honor its statutory exemption and allow me to take an alternate affirmation,” the government did not feel she qualified for the conscientious objector exemption because her objections were not based on “religious training or beliefs.”

In other words, moral objections are only for the religious.

Those who fled to the land that would be declared the United States of America did so to pursue freedoms not afforded to them under a powerful monarchy. This included religious expression of their choice. The belief was of such importance that the Establishment Clause of the Constitution prohibits the establishment of religion or prohibiting the exercising of religious expression. However, many are finding that the freedom from religion is harder to come by.

While the majority of Americans still identify with some religious affiliation, the rise of the non-affiliated has dramatically increased in the past five years. Thirty percent of Americans admit to not being part of a particular religion. Most of these are people that have left the religion they were raised in but maintain a belief in a god. However, people identifying as nontheists are on the rise.

The American Humanist Association, founded more than 70 years ago, is dedicated to bringing forth a progressive society where “being good without god is an accepted and respected way of life.” Humanists encompasses a variety of nontheistic views while “adding the important element of a comprehensive worldview and set of ethical values – values that are grounded in the philosophy of the Enlightenment, informed by scientific knowledge, and driven by a desire to meet the needs of people in the here and now.”  They do these through a variety of ways, including the protection of the civil rights of people whose views are based on secularism.

People like Adriana Ramirez.

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center is representing Ramirez in her appeal. They claim that the denial of her application because her objections were not “religious” in nature is unconstitutional. They cite a Supreme Court ruling in United States v Seeger indicating that the necessary requirement for a conscientious objector for religious reasons must include secular beliefs in order to not violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. The ruling related to issues of the draft, but a later case included the process of naturalization. The organization appealed a denial last year of an atheist in Texas by sending a similar letter. Her application was approved soon after receiving the letter.

Adriana Ramirez is waiting to find out if her moral objections are just as valid without God.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Val M.
Val M3 years ago


William Eaves
William Eaves3 years ago

So the religious nuts in America will not give an exemption to someone who follows their own commandment Thou Shall Not Kill. Talk about hyprocacy. Goodness knows where the right to bear arms fits in the supposed message of their religion!

Michael T.
Michael T3 years ago


I observed the contradictions between the behavior of the religious and the teachings that were being touted as well as the contradictions in the message itself. I then began to search outside of the rc to see if the other versions whose roots were Abrahamic (minus the Muslim third of that trio) were just as flawed. And they were. In some cases even more so as in the case of the fellow convicted of fraud who claimed he had dug up gold plates and read to a man on the other side of a blanket so that the stenographer never saw said plates and their planet Kolbasz (Hungarian for sausage).

Michael T.
Michael T3 years ago

@David B, I can attest to a similar path. I literally tried my hardest to find this imaginary god the rc indoctrinated me with and try it on for size and I mean I threw myself into it for the first 5 years in an rc school. I got nothing back in my head or heart from this pure and intense effort. I began to use my brain and began to find all kinds of flaws in that nonsense. The rc school I went to never had a buybull in the classrooms. Everything was taught to us out of what they called books on catechism.

My folks had taught me to read early on and I apparently began to read books that were probably beyond my grade level, but I began to learn rational thinking and developed the ability to reason from the experience.

Vasu M.
.3 years ago

"Moral Objections are Only for the Religious..." Educating pro-lifers about animal issues IS pro-life activism! Abortion and war are the karma for killing animals. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada said in 1974:

"You are killing innocent cows and other animals--nature will take revenge. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. They'll fight among themselves--Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America... This is nature's law. Tit for tat. 'You have killed. Now you kill *yourselves.*

"They are sending animals to the slaughterhouse, and now they'll create their own slaughterhouse... You'll kill your own child--abortion. This is nature's law.

"Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed and now they're being killed by their own mothers... If you kill you must be killed. If you kill the cow, who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother.

"We don't want to stop trade, or the production of grains and vegetables and fruit. But we want to stop these killing houses. Every ten or fifteen years there is a big war--a wholesale slaughterhouse for humankind... by the law of karma, every action must have its reaction."

David B.
David B3 years ago

ah yes ,there were advantages being raised a catholic . you could raise hell all week and on sunday a few hail mary's cleaned your slate and you were free to start all over again . cool eh? well there were a few drawbacks to put up with such as the controlling priest , and the lack of a good steak on friday but hey , you can't have it all can you . oh and looking down your nose at those that weren't blessed , being r c .it's like all contrived religions, vile, cancerous and perverted.religion is given way to much power and it is normally abused .what could and should be a great help to man , is anything but.fortunately i was able to see the light earily enough to get out from it's vile canerous influence.

Vasu M.
.3 years ago

Animal activist Sandy K. emailed me about my book on religion and animal rights:

"I had no idea the Bible really supports a vegetarian and a humane treatment of animals lifestyle. With all of this known, I wonder why it is that no church or synagogue has forbidden killing animals for food... I suspect many churches and synagogues have ties with agribusiness and corporations?

"Which is one of the reasons that I do not go to church anymore. It seems to all just be a big business. Men in suits trying to sell something, as if God is a car or a house. Do you think the churches will ever come around to a more humane approach to animals? Just as they eventually did regarding slavery? I understand the new Pope denounced factory farming. I wonder if he still eats meat.

"I have come to be very scared of religous people. Once I attended a Baptist prayer meeting. It was a church that I walked into from off the street. It was just the pastor, myself and a parishioner. The pastor was taking prayer requests, so I prayed for world peace.

"They both looked at each other and then looked at me and said I should not pray for world peace because it is not biblical. It was around that point I realized how scary religious people really can be."

Religious people ARE scary! First an angry tirade of "We don't need politicians!" then forced to play a "friendly jogger" as if to say everything's alright.

Don V.
Don Vreeland3 years ago

The offical policy of Seventh Day Adventists, Quakers and Jehovah's Witness' is CI (Medics... Congressional Medal of Honor awarded (not won) by Desmond Doss), and JW, is total CI (no Government at all) can't be naturalized Americans?

Ron B.
Ron B3 years ago

Here we go with morality and religion again. Some people will try to tell you that they are joined at the hip. They're not. Never have been. Never will be.