Leading First Amendment scholars intervene in CA loyalty oath case

by Corney 8 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Corney

    Brianna Bolden-Hardge, a mother of two, a devout JW and a career California civil servant, sues the Office of the State Controller which revoked a job offer after she objected to swearing a loyalty oath, even though three other state agencies she worked for "either did not insist on the oath or provided her a religious accommodation to it" (by allowing to submit a clarifying statement). She sued, and the case was dismissed by a district court. Now it's heard by the Ninth Circuit. The plaintiff is represented by Harvard and Stanford Religious Liberty Clinics. Also, six leading law&religion scholars like Michael W. McConnell and Douglas Laycock, represented by Eugene Volokh, another superstar jurist, filed an amicus brief, arguing the Office discriminated against her:

    Here, the Office of the California State Controller has failed to provide an accommodation that would let Brianna Bolden-Hardge remain, by her lights, honest in God’s eyes. Forbidding Bolden-Hardge from providing her chosen addendum clarifying what she was saying by signing the California oath or affirmation would conflict with her religious beliefs, as a Jehovah’s Witness, on the importance and implications of making a promise or taking an oath. Bolden-Hardge thus had to choose between violating the tenets of her religion by signing the oath without the addendum or forgoing an opportunity for employment at a higher-paying job, creating a substantial burden on her religious beliefs. See Thomas v. Rev. Bd., 450 U.S. 707, 717-18 (1981). This violates the Title VII duty of reasonable accommodation, because the Office cannot show that accommodating Bolden-Hardge would qualify as an undue hardship: Title VII preempts state law, so any conflict between Bolden-Hardge’s requested addendum and the California Constitution is irrelevant; moreover, letting an employee sign a modest addendum imposes, at most, a de minimis cost on the Office. See Ansonia Bd. of Educ. v. Philbrook, 479 U.S. 60, 67 (1986). Therefore, the Office was obligated to provide Bolden-Hardge with a religious accommodation, and the Office’s refusal to do so amounts to religious discrimination.

  • road to nowhere
    road to nowhere

    A rare instance of being right. We do not see the wording of the oath though. Maybe it wou li d be something we would not object to, or over the top.

    Not like the government is honest and trustworthy.

  • Corney

    The oath:

    I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic [and] that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.

    The plaintiff "offered to sign the oath but on the condition that ... she be allowed to attach an addendum stating that she owes allegiance to God first and that she would not take up arms or engage in political affairs, as follows:

    I, Brianna Bolden-Hardge, vow to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of California while working in my role as an employee of the State Controller’s Office. I will be honest and fair in my dealings and neither dishonor the Office by word nor deed. By signing this oath, I understand that I shall not be required to bear arms, engage in violence, nor to participate in political or military affairs. Additionally, I understand that I am not giving up my right to freely exercise my religion, nor am I denouncing my religion by accepting this position."
  • under the radar
    under the radar

    In other news, it is a known fact that Judge Rutherford and Nathan Knorr, and probably many other Bethel heavies, signed a very similar oath in order to get a passport. I believe I've even seen photocopies of those documents posted here on JWN. If anyone can find and repost them, I think lots of people would be interested in seeing them.

  • under the radar
    under the radar

    There is also this, from the July 22, 1975 Awake!

    "A citizen of the United States of America who desires to travel abroad will find the following oath on a passport application: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations, or purpose of evasion: So help me God.” If an applicant finds this objectionable, he is permitted to strike this oath from the passport application, and he will not be denied the document on that basis.

    A godly person also appropriately weighs matters from the standpoint of Jesus Christ’s statement: “Pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” (Luke 20:25) If anything conflicts with God’s law, the Christian cannot conscientiously swear to it. Yet he might take an oath to ‘support and defend’ the provisions of the law of the land that are not out of harmony with the law of God. Enlightened nations that grant citizens freedom of worship do not require Christians to do things contrary to their Biblical beliefs and obligations to Almighty God.

    But how might a Christian ‘support and defend’ the law or the Constitution of a land granting religious liberty? By engaging only in proper and legal conduct that also harmonizes with the law of God. He can also do this by his spoken word, including the giving of truthful testimony in a court of law. No one can reasonably object to a Christian’s swearing to do something that God expects him to do, and relative subjection to governmental authorities is required of Christ’s followers.​—Rom. 13:1."

    Marvin Shilmer used to have an excellent blog, but I can't find it online now. Does anyone know if he's still around? One of his blog posts had an article on this very subject, and included a pic of Knorr's signature on the passport application oath page. So there's that.

    I think the lady in California, as sincere and well-meaning as she may be, made a big deal out of nothing. According to the Society's written material, and the example of its leaders, she could have signed the oath without violating the official tenets of her faith.

  • Overrated

    Sounds like she is trying to turn a buck from nothing. Opportunities to increase her cashflow. Will she donate if she win to Watchtower? She doesn't want to come to Gee-hober empty handed mind you.

  • under the radar
  • Vanderhoven7
  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    I think the State is right here. They want primary allegiance to their cause, not primary allegiance to a religion.

    If her religion tells her to violate the law or compromise information, she would do it, there is no way you can hire someone on those basis for an entrusted position. That is basically what the oath of allegiance is, it's a written or verbal contract that you will put the law ahead of your own self-interest.

    bear true faith and allegiance

    That is the same as upholding loyalty or commitment. If you do not wish to bear allegiance, you're basically saying you're not willing to uphold loyalty/commitment when it comes to religious interference.

    nor to participate in political or military affairs.

    If you work for any government agency, you're engaging in political/military affairs. It's the definition of government.

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