after suffering religious discrimination in Switzerland
LAS VEGAS, Dec. 6 – “I came to the United States seven years ago because of religious discrimination in Switzerland,” said Raelian Guide Thomas Kaenzig, who heads the Raelian religion in Nevada. “Now I’m standing up for religious freedom here – for my right to omit all religious references in becoming a U.S. citizen since religious freedom also means having the right to choose no religion at all. After lots of red tape, I was granted a God-free citizenship oath-taking ceremony on December 7 here in Las Vegas.”
Kaenzig said he lost his job in Switzerland because of his beliefs.
“As a Raelian spokesperson, I bashed the Vatican in an interview with Switzerland’s major newspaper, Blick. I wasn’t wanted on company projects after that. I was jobless.”
Raelians deny the existence of a personal deity. Instead, they honor the Elohim – extraterrestrial scientists who created life on Earth, including humans, through genetic engineering – and they follow the teachings of Rael, the Elohim’s Last Prophet. The Raelian Movement founded by Rael now includes some 65,000 members in 90 countries.
“As a Raelian, I objected to three things in the standard naturalization procedure,” Kaenzig said. “I object to an oath saying I’ll bear arms to defend the country; to an oath ending in ‘so help me God,’ and to a public ceremony violating separation of church and state. The judge, a public official, typically pronounces ‘so help me God’ at the end.”
Kaenzig said alterations to the citizenship oath have been permitted before but that he was probably the first to insist upon omitting all religious references from the oath ceremony, including those made by the judge.