She is suing to have that phrase “So help me, God” removed from the oath
The newest in a slew of attempts to purge references to God from government finds Olga Paule Perrier-Bilbo at its forefront. Perrier-Bilbo, a green-card-holding atheist from France claims that her ability to finalize her U.S. citizenship is obstructed by the last four words of the oath: “So help me, God.” She is suing to have that phrase removed from the oath altogether on the grounds that it violates religious freedom and is therefore unconstitutional.
The reference to God in the citizenship oath, her lawsuit claims, “sends the ancillary message to members of the audience that disbelieve in God that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to those that believe in God that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.” Perrier-Bilbo says that as an atheist, the use of “God” in the oath makes her “feel less than a full new citizen.”
Her attorney is Michael Newdow who made headlines for his similar Supreme Court case in 2004 in which he sought to have “under God” omitted from the Pledge Of Allegiance. That case, as well as his lawsuit to remove “In God We Trust” from American currency, was unsuccessful. Newdow and Perrier-Bilbo filed their lawsuit in federal court on Thursday.
Newsweek reports that this is Perrier-Bilbo’s second attempt at citizenship in the United States. In her first attempt in 2009, she was “offered the chance to participate in a private citizenship ceremony that would allow her to omit those four words.”