The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty joined 30 other religious and religious-liberty organizations in a broad coalition urging passage of legislation making it illegal for Donald Trump, if elected president, to bar Muslim immigration.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) unveiled the Freedom of Religion Act in a press conference May 11 surrounded by faith leaders who wrote members of Congress urging passage of the brief measure that would bar the U.S. from denying a person the opportunity to enter the country based solely on his or her religion.
“This bill is an important step toward ensuring that our nation will remain open to people of all faiths and beliefs, securing the religious freedom of all,” said the coalition that also includes Interfaith Alliance, National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
A delegation of co-sponsors said the bill is in response to “political rhetoric vilifying select religious groups and increasingly hostile rhetoric toward religious freedom in the immigration system.”
“We cannot allow fear and paranoia to drive our public policy, especially when it comes to the defining values of our country,” Beyer said. “Our Founding Fathers guaranteed religious freedom for all in the First Amendment to our Constitution. People all around the world look to us as the standard for freedom, liberty and tolerance.”
Faith groups supporting the measure cited the nation’s “long and proud history of providing safe harbor for members of communities fleeing persecution and seeking a better life on our shores.”
“It is this commitment to religious freedom that has allowed religious diversity and practice to flourish in this country like nowhere else,” they said.
Today that legacy is in jeopardy, they said, as concerns about national security mixed with religious bigotry and irrational fear have prompted some to call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, limiting the number of refugees allowed into the country and policies designed to make life more difficult for Muslims in America.
“To close our doors to Muslim immigrants and refugees in need would betray both the First Amendment and our nation’s great history as an open and welcoming land.”