The Freedom From Religion Foundation announced in a news release Wednesday that it is suing Alabama’s secretary of state over a religious voter oath it believes to be unconstitutional.
The Wisconsin-based group’s lawsuit filed against Secretary of State John H. Merrill claims that Alabama obstructs voter’s rights by requiring them to swear “so help me God” on registration forms, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The group filed the suit on behalf of 4 Alabama citizens who “are unable to swear a religious oath.”
“The secretary of state’s official policy is to hinder the registration of voters who are unable to swear ‘so help me God,’” the news release said. “This policy violates the rights of the plaintiffs and others under the First and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
We’re suing: Alabama is the only state in the country that requires voters to register on a form mandating they swear “so help me God,” a violation of their constitutional rights. https://t.co/AhuDjo3qYt
— FFRF (@FFRF) October 1, 2020
The foundation’s lead plaintiff is Ray Cragun, who has attempted to register online since 2019, according to the release. Cragun contacted the Alabama secretary of state’s office seeking a form that did not require him, under penalty of perjury, to swear the religious oath. The office informed Cragun that “there is no legal mechanism to register to vote in AL without signing the oath as it is stated,” the release said.
“It is deplorable that in our secular nation nontheistic citizens are encountering a religious test to register to vote,” Freedom From Religion Foundation(FFRF) Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, said in the release. “No citizen should have to choose between their right to vote and their freedom of conscience.”
The foundation is asking for a permanent injunction prohibiting Alabama from requiring to swear “so help me God” on the registration form and seeking a form that does not ask for voters to take the religious oath. (RELATED: Preparing For Election Lawsuits, Biden Hires Hundreds Of Lawyers, Two Former Solicitors General)
“The secretary of state has willfully excluded nontheist citizens from registering to vote,” said FFRF Senior Litigation Counsel Patrick Elliott, “and is coercing a statement of belief in a monotheistic god by requiring nontheists to swear a religious oath.”
The foundation filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Alabama, according to the FFRF release.