21 July 2016

Celebration of Citizenship Part 2

A few days ago I posted Part 1 of my Celebration of Citizenship here. That post focused on our son-in-law; this one is on the oath of citizenship:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

I wonder how many natural-born—as opposed to naturalized—citizens have the slightest idea the extent of the obligations undertaken by those who choose to become American citizens? Not many, I’d guess. Most folks born here take our rights and liberties for granted. Those who come from elsewhere have at least some idea of what it might take to secure them.

I was a bit surprised that Judge Beryl Howell omitted the divine malediction, “so help me God.” The Code of Federal Regulations makes this part of the oath optional but that would seem to be at the option of the person to be naturalized, not the judge. Perhaps Judge Howell is an Anabaptist, for whom oath taking in the civil realm is inappropriate. Perhaps she was concerned that variations in the oath-takers’ notions of the Divine made collective reference to “God” ambiguous. Perhaps she thought that reference to God in this assertively secular age was simply out of place.

Or--extraordinarily unlikely--Judge Howell is a closet follower of contemporary Reformed two-kingdoms theology (go here and here for some comments on R2K).

In any event, son-in-law Attilio assured me that the American naturalization ceremony embodied far more solemnity than Italy’s where there is no ceremony at all. He appreciated the importance that America gives to naturalization because, indeed, changing one’s patria is an important moment that should be recognized

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