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Obligations of the oath
Oath in relationship to the bearing of arms.
. The oath is prospective in nature,
and its promises are in effect the contractual consideration given by the alien in return for the privileges and benefits bestowed upon him when he is admitted to citizenship.
Since at least 1906, wither by regulation or specific statutory provision,
the petitioner's concluding assertion that the oath is taken freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion has been required thereof. In fulfillment of the averment, the courts have stated that the petitioner must sincerely and absolutely renounce all foreign allegiance, give true faith and allegiance to the United States, its Constitution and laws, and intend to make the United States his permanent home where he will fully assume and discharge all duties and obligations of citizenship.
The above obligations of the oath do not admit of dual allegiance,
but contemplate the assumption of an undivided loyalty excluding any mental reservations wither conscious or latent.
However, a sentimental fondness or affection for the homeland,
and the retention of cultural feelings imbedded during childhood and youth in one's native country
are not inconsistent with the obligations of the oath.
Oath in relationship to the bearing of arms
Under former statutes
. Prior to the Act of September 23, 1950, the statutes did not mention the bearing of arms in relationship to naturalization. However, prior to 1946, several Supreme Court decisions had taken the position that the commitment in the oath to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, constituted an implied promise to bear arms, and that a refusal to do so not only qualified the oath, but also indicated a lack of attachment
to the principles of the Constitution.
In 1929, a self-styled "uncompromising pacifist" was denied citizenship on the above grounds, when she not only declined to bear arms, but also showed a disposition to encourage others to take a similar stand.
Citizenship was subsequently denied an ordained Baptist minister who was unwilling to put allegiance to the state ahead of allegiance to God or leave his personal moral determinations to the majority. Irrespective of the legislative will or authority, he was willing to defend the United States by bearing arms only if he, personally, believed the war to be morally justified.
In much the same basis, the petition of a former United States Army nurse, who had served as such in France during World War I was also denied when she refused to take then oath as written, if it implied a promise to bear arms, unless she were permitted to insert as part of the oath the words "as far as my Christian conscience will allow"
Strong dissents from the majority view expressed in the Schwimmer, Macintosh, and Bland Cases, and, in 1946, the Supreme Court reversed its position by substantially adopting the principles and argument expounded in the dissenting opinions. The precedent-breaking decision
involved a Seventh-Day Adventist who was willing to serve the country in a noncombatant capacity, but was unwilling to bear arms because of his religious belief. In admitting Girouard to citizenship, the court observed that the bearing of arms is not the only manner in which the institutions of the country might be defended; that the oath, in its terms, does not exact a promise to bear arms; that the bearing of arms is not an express statutory prerequisite to citizenship; and that Congress, since colonial
times, has consistently granted exemptions from military service to conscientious objectors. The focal point of the decision left intact the requirement that a petitioner establish attachment to the principles of the Constitution,
except insofar as the determination of such issue might be modified by reason for a refusal to take up arms.
The modifications in terms of the oath made by the amendatory legislation of September 23, 1950, and current section 337 represent congressional reaction to the modified viewpoint expressed by the Supreme Court in the Girouard decision.
Under current statute; exemptions
. To qualify for the exemption from the promises to bear arms and to perform noncombatant service, a petitioner must show each of the following;
(1) that he is "opposed to any type of service";
(2) that his objection is grounded in religious principles, as construed by the Supreme Court in
, 398 U.S. 333 (1970), and
, 280 U.S. 163 (1965); and (3) that his beliefs are sincere, meaningful, and deeply held.
The three tests are cumulative and each must be satisfied.
Religious training and belief; Seeger and Welsh
. The privilege of taking the oath without a promise to bear arms or to perform noncombatant service is available only to petitioners whose refusal to do so is based upon "religious training and belief," a term which is defined for the first time in section 337 of the current naturalization statute. As therein defined, the term mean an individual's belief in relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but does not include essentially political, sociologi
cal, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code. Until 1967, this same definition of "religious training and belief" also was found in section 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, and formed the basis upon which registrants thereunder were granted the classification of conscientious objector. Because the definitions in both enactments were identical, decisions interpretative of section 6(j) were regarded as equally applicable in determining eligibility to take the modified
oath under section 337 of the current statute.
The conscription statute identified above was mended by the Military Selective Service Act of 1967.
The amendatory legislation continued the exemption accorded persons "who, by reason of religious training and belief, are conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form," but the definition of "religious training and belief" in section 6(j) which therefore has read "Religious training and belief..... means an individual's belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but does not include essentially political, sociological, or phil
osophical views or merely a personal moral code," was modified by the 1967 enactment to leave only the limited statement that "the term 'religious training and belief' does not include essentially political, sociological, philosophical views, or a merely personal moral code." Notwithstanding this definition change,
the Service will continue to apply the Selective Service decisions in naturalization cases to the extent hereinafter indicated.
The Supreme Court, in the Selective Service case of
, 380 U.S. 163 (1965), held that "religious training and belief," then defined in the statute as a "belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relationship," did not require a belief in a traditional personalized God. Rather, it was said to embrace a sincere and meaningful belief based upon a power or being, or upon faith, to which all else is subordinate or upon which all else in ultimately dependent; stated another way, a sincere and meaningful belie
f which occupies in the life of the possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption satisfies the definition. Where such beliefs have parallel positions in the lives of their respective holders, both must be held to be in relation to a Supreme Being.
The court explicitly stated that excluded form the exemption were those disavowing religious belief who decide on the basis of essentially political, philosophical, sociological, or economic considerations that war is wrong, and those whose opposition stems from a merely personal moral code.
, 398 U.S. 333 (1970), clarified the standards in
, holding that the Selective Service statute exempts all those whose consciences, spurred by deeply held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs, would give them no rest or peace if they allowed themselves to become an instrument of war. The court thus appears to have construed "religious" beliefs to include certain deeply held "moral" and "ethical" beliefs.
The court further held that excluded from the exemption are whose objections to war do not rest upon moral, ethical, or religious principle but, instead, rest solely upon considerations of policy, pragmatism, or expediency, and those whose beliefs are not deeply held.
themselves, in filling out their exemption applications, struck out the word "training," but were nevertheless held qualified for exemption. Thus, it has been held that the prerequisites of "religious training," as such, required by the statute is no longer a viable consideration in determining eligibility for the exemption.
Religious training and belief; exclusions and inclusions
. The claim of a petitioner that his belief is an essential part of a religious faith must be given great weight.
However, when a petitioner classifies his beliefs as non-religious, it is not conclusive and the court may determine from all the evidence whether it is, in fact, religious.
But, the validity of the petitioner's beliefs cannot be questioned,
the only question being whether they are in "his own scheme of things,"
"religious." The reference to "own scheme of things" is intended to indicate that the central consideration in determining whether the claimant's beliefs are religious is whether they play a part of and function as a religion in the claimant's life.
, stress that exemption is not dependent upon membership in or adherence to the teachings of a particular religion or organized church that is opposed to war or killing as a matter of doctrine, but is personal to the claimant.
But mere membership in a religious group teaching conscientious objection is not an automatic basis for such status;
and membership in a religious group which does not require conscientious objection as a tenet of the faith is not automatically a basis for refusing recognition as a conscientious objector,
Nor need any religious sect with which he is affiliated require conscientious objection as a tenet of the faith.
The fact that a claimant, whose religious beliefs have been established, also especially opposes a particular war does not disqualify him for the exemption on religious grounds;
nor does the fact that the claimant has also developed political and sociological convictions respecting war preclude the possibility that he also holds moral, ethical, or religious beliefs which qualify him for the exemption on religious grounds;
nor does the fact that the claimant is motivated, in part, by a personal moral code disqualify him for the exemption when he is also substantially motivated by views derived from religious training and belief.
A claimant who considers himself to an atheist does not thereby disqualify himself for conscientious objector classification, since that belief can in part be a product of faith and occupy the same place in life as normal religion occupies in the life of a religious person.
The "personal moral code" that excludes eligibility for the exemption relates to a moral code which is not only personal but which is the sole basis for the claimant's belief and is in no way related to a Supreme Being. If the claimed religious beliefs meet the test of
, those beliefs cannot be said to be based on a merely personal moral code.
Before a conscientious objector claim may be rejected, on the ground that it is based on a merely personal moral code, or in any other exclusionary rule, that or those factors must be the sole basis of the claim.
If the opposition to war stems form beliefs held with the strength of traditional religious convictions, the sincerity test is satisfied.
To rebut a
case of eligibility for the exemption, there must exist provable, reliable facts that provide the basis for disbelieving the claimant or something which blurs the picture printed and thus casts doubt on sincerity.
Unexplained impression are insufficient,
as are mere suspicion and speculation;
but insincerity may be found to exist because of the shifty or evasive demeanor of the claimant.
Rejection of a claim can be based upon a finding that the claimant does not in fact believe his outward manifestations or that such belief is not deeply held, as when prior statements or actions are inconsistent with the claimant's stated beliefs,
or are untruthful,
or membership was held in a military organization,
or objection to any governmental service is made,
or claimant was employed in a defense plant.
The absence of any inconsistent facts does not preclude an honest and rational finding of insincerity and express rejection of the claim on demeanor grounds.
Insincerity is not implied from the taking of an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies,
, or a willingness to hunt wild game.
Advocating defense of self and others by any degree of violence necessary under the circumstances, including killing, is not, of itself, disqualifying, where it is limited in scope and to situation essential unavoidable.
Late maturation of beliefs is not in any way inconsistent with sincerity of belief;
and the timing of a claim for exemption, although a factor to be considered, is not alone sufficient to justify a conclusion of insincerity, but considered with other relevant factors may justify a conclusion of insincerity.
Construction of the term "opposed to any type of service" as the basis for taking a modified oath (opposition to service in a specific war)
. The Service takes the position that the term "opposed to any type of service," as used in current section 337)a), means opposition to any and all service in the armed forces. It follows, therefore, that where a petitioner is opposed to service in a specific war which he deems unjust, while at the same he is not opposed to such service in wars generally, he can be regarded as eligible to take the oath with the limited obligation to perform work of national importance under civilian direction.
The Supreme Court decision in
when considered in the light of the legislative history relating to section 337(a), lends some support to the viewpoint expressed above. The court denied Gillette exemption as a religious conscientious objector under section 6(j) of the Military Selective Service Act of 1967, because he objected to participation in the Vietnam conflict as an unjust war, and not to participation in all war. The ruling construed the term "conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form" in 6(j) as meaning "oppo
sition to participating in any war and all war."
Admittedly, the term in section 6(j) noted above, "opposed to participation in war in any form" differs in wording from comparable term in section 337(a); i.e., "opposed to any type of service." However, it is significant that the legislative history relating to the naturalization section contains a committee recommendation that the oath of allegiance be amended to require a promise to bear arms, unless the alien is, conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form,"
precisely the same words which appear in section 6 (j).
Of similar significance are the words of other committees
stating, in effect, that the [ new naturalization of oath section ] is designed to place the naturalized citizen in the same position as the native-born citizen with respect to the responsibility for bearing arms, performing noncombatant service, and performing work of national importance under civilian direction.
A conference committee report relating to the current statute also reflects that the conferences had provided for naturalization oath which would not violate bona fide religious conviction if properly proved in accordance with standards set up in the Selective Service Act of 1948, as amended.
It seems clear from this relevant legislative data that the Congress intended to equate "opposed to participation in war in any form," and to require the naturalization petitioner seeking to limit his oath obligation to work of national importance to meet in all respects the same test required for a similar conscientious objector status under the draft laws.
(Formerly subdiv. (ii); redesignated subdiv.(iv))
Work of national importance under civilian direction
. An exemption from the promise to perform work of national importance is not available to any petitioner, even if his opposition thereto is based upon religious training and belief. A petitioner who is exempt from bearing arms or from performing noncombatant service and who answers affirmatively the question of whether he is willing to perform work of national importance shall not be questioned further regarding the type of work of national importance he is willing to perform.
If, contrary to Service Policy, questioning along these lines is directed by the court, or if such information is volunteered by the petitioner in his N-400 application or during a preliminary examination, a favorable recommendation nevertheless shall be made even though the petitioner has qualified the type of work of national importance that he is willing to perform, unless the, qualification are so broad that the effect thereof is to negate completely a professed willingness to perform work of national
importance. It is the Service position that an unwillingness to perform certain types of work of national importance does not constitute a mental reservation respecting willingness to perform work of national importance.
The Service position set forth just above continues unchanged even though a recent decision
a court saw fit to adopt the former contrary viewpoint of the Service,
namely that a petitioner could not qualify that portion of the oath relating to work of national importance, by declaring what type of work he will or will not perform.
It is also the Service view that the words :substance of ... clause (5)(C)," as they appear in current section 337(a) with reference to the required composition of a modified oath, mean that a petitioner who is qualified to take an oath containing only clause "(5)(c)," despite his expressed unwillingness to perform certain types of work if national importance, must take the oath with clause "(5)(C)" worded as it appears in such section, and cannot append to the clause words descriptive of the work he is wi
lling or unwilling to perform.
Thus, the Service is in disagreement with a recent court decision
holding that the petitioner may enlarge the substance of clause "(5)(C)" by adding thereto the words "which will not endanger or cause the death of an individual."
In a recent unreported court decision in Pennsylvania,
the court held where a petitioner is willing to perform work of national importance under civilian direction
the work was not a substitute for military service, this constitutes sufficient mental reservation to warrant denial. (
The court stated in its decision that "petitioner's refusal to take the modified oath of allegiance
without further qualifications
is fatal to her petition for naturalization." Citing
In re MacKay
the court said, "one cannot bargain and specify his terms of citizenship." (
Duration of petitioner's attitude toward obligations of oath
. Willingness to bear arms or perform noncombatant service or work of national importance under civilian direction need not have exited throughout the statutory period. A petitioner's unwillingness during part of the statutory period (assuming that the reason therefore does not indicate lack of attachment) does not preclude naturalization if he is willing to take the oath in good faith and without reservation at the final hearing.
Extent of petitioner's obligation when not entitled to exemption
. A petitioner who is unable to establish his qualifications to take the oath without a promise to bear arms is required to take the oath in a form which will commit him only to the bearing of arms, but also to the performance of noncombatant service and work of national importance.
Unwillingness to vote, serve on jury, or otherwise participate in government, because of religious training and belief
. See INTERP 316.1(h) (3) (iv).