American Humanist Association (AHA)

The American Humanist Association advocates progressive values and equality for humanists, atheists and freethinkers in the United States. We work to promote humanism--the idea that you can be good without a god.

Load Previous Comments
  • Brian Magee

    U.S. Immigration Services Denies Applicant Based on Secular Beliefs
    Legal Permanent Resident to be Aided by Humanist Legal Center

     

    (San Diego, CA, Feb 27, 2014) — A California resident applying for U.S. citizenship has had her application denied because immigration officials did not accept as valid a conscientious objector declaration to “bear arms” in defense of the U.S. because it is secular in nature. The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center is representing Adriana Ramirez in her appeal.

    In a letter dated Feb. 27, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials in San Diego, CA were informed that their decision is not supported by the law and should immediately be reversed. “Given the Supreme Court’s unequivocal instruction that, to be consistent with the Constitution, the government must interpret a statute permitting conscientious objection on the basis of ‘religious’ belief to include comparable secular moral views,” the letter states, “denying Ms. Ramirez’s citizenship on the grounds that her secular moral beliefs are not ‘religious’ is unconstitutional.”

    “There is no legal basis to deny a citizenship application because one’s ethical values are secular,” said Appignani Legal Center attorney Monica Miller. “The letter is meant to clarify the mistake being made by officials at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’s San Diego office so that the application process can move forward.”

    In June 2013, the American Humanist Association was successful in a nearly identical case. On behalf of Margaret Doughty, a similar letter was sent by the Appignani Humanist Legal Center to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials in Texas outlining the Supreme Court rulings that require the government to treat secular and religious conscientious objectors alike. Shortly after the letter was received, Ms. Doughty’s citizenship application was approved.

    During the citizenship process, applicants are allowed to express moral, ethical, or religious objections to warfare, making the promise to “bear arms” an optional part of the oath of loyalty taken by those approved for citizenship.

  • Brian Magee

    Federal Judge Stops Lake Elsinore, CA Religious War Memorial

    Planned monument depicting a Christian cross violates the First Amendment

    (Los Angeles, CA—Feb. 27, 2014)—A federal judge has ruled that a planned religious war memorial by the city of Lake Elsinore, CA at the city-owned baseball stadium can’t be built because it “violates both the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause and California’s Establishment and No Preference Clauses.” The planned monument depicts a soldier kneeling in prayer before a Christian cross.

    The suit was filed by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center in May 2013. A preliminary injunction against the city was issued by US District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson in July 2013 and stopped activity until the final ruling was handed down. Among other things, the judge ruled that the planned monument lacks a secular purpose and has the unconstitutional effect of endorsing religion over non-religion.

    “I’m pleased Judge Wilson decided to uphold the valuable principles contained within the First Amendment,” said Appignani Humanist Legal Center Director David Niose. “I hope that if members of the city council still want to honor veterans, they will move forward with a monument design that represents everyone who fought for our freedoms.”

    The suit and an earlier letter sent to the city contain details about the times several city officials and supporters of the proposed monument publicly declared the Christian symbolism was at least part of the reason they supported its construction. Despite the clearly sectarian motivation for spending public money—and a warning from the city’s attorney that the monument as approved is likely unconstitutional—the city council unanimously voted to approve the monument anyway, saying that they were “taking a stand” for Christianity and against the separation of church and state.

    Officials from the City of Lake Elsinore have the option to appeal the ruling.

  • Bryan McDowell

    If anyone is from the East Texas area, we have a new organization established and growing fast. Secular Humanist Society of East Texas is almost 5 months old and consists of 435+ members. We are a chapter of the AHA. Aron Ra is coming to talk for us at SFA in Nacogdoches, TX if anyone is interested. More info about us and our FB group can be found at www.shset.org