Passport Rule Conflicts with ATI Policy
The Advanced Training Institute is objecting to new rules which ban smiling in visa and passport photos. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains that a subject's expression should be non-smiling with both eyes open, and mouth closed. U.S. State Department indicates that a smile with closed jaw is "allowed but is not preferred."
ATI students are not sure how to cope with this directive. "Dozens of ATI students travel on ministry trips to foreign countries," said an ATI spokesman. "We train them to go abroad with a ministry smile, and these new regulations impede an important aspect of our work."
Bill Gothard himself, known for his teaching on submitting to authorities, spoke out against the new rule. "Government leaders all over the world tell me the thing that sets ATI young people apart is their bright countenances. If they cannot smile in their passport pictures, how will they minister to customs officials?"
ATI plans to file a godly, seven-step appeal with the U.S. government which will cite the spiritual and health benefits of smiling.
If this effort fails, however, ATI is prepared to engage in civil disobedience. "We are commanded to let our light so shine before men," said the ATI spokesman, "and we must obey God rather than man. These rules violate the separation of church and state."
ATI is organizing peaceable demonstrations for students to gather and sing "The Smile Song."