French atheist sues to remove 'so help me God' from US citizenship oath

A U.S. green card holder has filed a federal lawsuit aimed at removing a reference to “God” from the oath confirming American citizenship. 

The plaintiff has been identified as French national Olga Paule Perrier-Bilbo who is protesting the phrase “so help me God” over her atheist beliefs.

A recent McClatchy report quoted her legal filing as arguing, “By its very nature, an oath that concludes ‘so help me God’ is asserting that God exists. 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.”

The Bill of Rights starts off by stating in its First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” 

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Questions and answers on the US Citizenship Test
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Questions and answers on the US Citizenship Test
How many amendments does the Constitution have?

Answer: 27

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Who makes federal laws?

Answer: Congress, Senate, House of Representatives 

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) 

The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

Answer: 'We the People'

(Photo via Getty Images)

We elect a US Senator for how many years?

Answer: Six (at a time)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House of Representatives has how many voting members?

Answer: 435

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?

Answers: To print money, to declare war, to create an army, to make treaties

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

If both the president and vice president can no longer serve, who becomes president?

Answer: Speaker of the House

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

What are two Cabinet-level positions?

Answers: Vice President, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of State, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Attorney General

(Photo credit should read ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

Answer: Thomas Jefferson

(Photo via Getty Images)

When was the Constitution written?

Answer: 1787

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

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However, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s official website, those granted U.S. citizenship are not required to say the phrase “so help me God” in the oath of allegiance nor must those abstaining provide testimony or evidence about the decision. 

Perrier-Bilbo was given a similar option in 2009 when she was first offered citizenship, but she has reportedly claimed in her current lawsuit that the alternative would make her “feel less than a full new citizen.” 

Despite her arguments, previous attempts to remove the word “God” from government-related objects and activities have largely failed. 

Courts have rejected attempts to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance, in part, because the recitation is voluntary. 

And in 1983, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan cast doubt about the actual religious implications of phrases like “In God We Trust,” which appears on U.S. currency. 

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