January 2021 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

A Jehovah’s Witness in California has filed a lawsuit saying her rights were violated after she was denied a state job because she refused to sign a loyalty oath.

Brianna Bolden-Hardge accepted a job in the Payroll Department of the California State Controller’s Office (SCO). She says the offer was withdrawn after she refused to sign an oath that reads in part, “I … do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States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.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses often decline to swear oaths to the government, arguing that their primary allegiance is to God. Bolden-Hardge also argued that she was unwilling to take up arms to defend the state. She asked for the right to make changes to the statement, reported United Press International.

Bolden-Hardge’s lawsuit, filed in a federal court in Sac­ra­mento, asserts, “By extending the job offer to Bol­den-Hardge, the SCO had deemed her qualified. It rescinded her job offer only after – and because – she asked for a religious accommodation.”