The Freedom From Religion Foundation has voluntarily dropped its federal lawsuit against Alabama after the state amended its voter registration form requiring a religious oath.
Alabama was the only state in the country that required voters to register to vote on a form that required a “so help me God” oath without any secular option to verify statements on the form.
As part of the settlement, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has amended the form to allow voters to check a box that says, “OPTIONAL: Because of a sincerely held belief, I decline to include the final four words of the oath above.”
The lead plaintiff, atheist Randall Cragun, tried to register to vote in Alabama starting in November 2019. The Freedom From Religion Foundation said Cragun was told, “There is no legal mechanism to register to vote in AL without signing the oath as it is stated.”
Married couple Chris Nelson and Heather Coleman were also plaintiffs in the suit, and the foundation said they were able to register using the new form in March. Both of their registrations were accepted by Shelby County registrars, the foundation said.
“We are glad that the state has — at least, begrudgingly — made some concessions to support state-church separation, and that freethinkers in Alabama will continue to push for these reforms,” the couple said in a statement released by the foundation.