The Ethical Dilemma: Do I Need God to Become a US Citizen?

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Do I Need God To Become A Citizen? I am having an ethical dilemma. To become a US citizen you must sign and submit Form 400. Included there is the Oath of Allegiance, which  includes the phrase “so help me God.”  I am a humanist, and I do not believe that the phrase should be part of my oath. Some people will not repeat or recite the phrase at the ceremony. But in part 11 of Form 400, question 49 states, “Are you willing to take the Full Oath of Allegiance to the United States?” There is no option provided to avoid signing the Full Oath of Allegiance. Do you know if it was challenged successfully before?

—Must My First Oath As  an American Include a Fib?

Dear Fib,

This reminds me of all those online “click to agree” things we check off automatically because it’s the only, or at least easiest, way to proceed with whatever we’re trying to do. No one pays any attention to what they’ve agreed to, and nothing ever seems to go wrong because we sheepishly went along, but there’s the nagging concern that insincerely indicating agreement is not the ethical way to roll and might one day bite us in the butt. On the other hand, objecting would be a noble but thankless and probably futile exercise, and it might prevent us from achieving what we’re trying to accomplish.

But in this case, others have been there and done that. It seems quite clear from visiting a couple of links on Google that you don’t have to say or sign the offending phrase. There are provisions for people to “solemnly affirm” rather than “swear an oath” and to omit “so help me God.” You don’t even need anything special—no note from the church you don’t belong to. You just say that’s what you want to do.

At some point during your application process, inform the clerk that you will be affirming in lieu of swearing an oath. You’ll need to find out whether you should just cross out the naughty bits or if you can be provided with a secular text. And that should take care of it. If it doesn’t, please contact the AHA legal team to provide your immigration officials with a little remedial job training.