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House Delegation Introduces Freedom Of Religion Act In Challenge To President Trump’s Muslim Bans

Today 124 Members of the House of Representatives led by Reps. Don Beyer (VA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Andre Carson (D-IN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) introduced the Freedom of Religion Act to prohibit religious discrimination in our immigration system. The legislation was originally introduced in 2016 by Rep. Beyer in response to then-candidate Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban proposal, a version of which remains in effect as the policy of the United States government.

“We prioritized introducing this legislation because portions of President Trump’s Muslim Ban remain in force and are at odds with American values and principles,” said Rep. Don Beyer. “From the moment Trump took office, he made it clear that persecuting immigrants and minorities would be the guiding principle of his Administration. This is the same principle which caused him to shut down the government. But from that same moment people who oppose bigotry have opposed his bigoted policies in airports, in the streets, and in Congress. Now we are in a position to use our new majority to oppose Trump’s bigotry with legislation like the Freedom of Religion Act, and I look forward to taking further action on this bill in the 116th Congress.”

“Freedom of religion is at the core of American’s founding—the first colonists came here to flee persecution and practice their religious beliefs in peace, and many of today’s refugees come for the same reason,” Congresswoman Norton said.  “America’s example as a beacon of light for the rest of the world is diminished by the President’s Muslim ban.  This unlawful executive order undermines American security and sends a chilling signal to Muslim American citizens here at home.”

“As a daughter of immigrants and a proud Jew, I will never forget where my family came from or the horrors that members of my community have experienced,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “That is why President Trump’s appalling efforts to build a wall and consistent hostility towards immigrants is so personal to me. Bigotry does not make America great – nor does erecting a 2000-mile wall. This undermines our strength as a country by giving in to fearmongering, hate, and division. Welcoming people of all faiths, and from all regions, is the best way to counter hatred and extremism. Our diversity makes us strong, and our diversity makes us safe. I am very proud to join Rep. Beyer in reintroducing this legislation.”

“The Freedom of Religion Act reaffirms our country's fundamental tenets: our Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom and our values of tolerance and pluralism. Discrimination based on religion divides our communities and makes our country more isolated,” Congresswoman Betty McCollum said. “The Freedom of Religion Act will end shameful abuses like President Trump's 2017 executive order barring immigrants and other international visitors from entering the country -- and make it unequivocally clear that the United States will never stand for religious discrimination.”

“To turn our back on immigrants betrays our nation's core values,” said Rep. André Carson.  “President Trump’s Muslim Ban sends a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the United States is no longer a beacon of freedom. This critical legislation ensures that the United States will always be a country that welcomes people of all races, ethnicities, and religions.”

“President Trump’s barbaric executive order banning immigrants from certain Muslim majority countries is un-American, and unconstitutional,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal. “We can’t let this President force his authoritarian agenda on us. I’m proud to co-introduce the Freedom of Religion Act. This is not just an act of resistance against xenophobic policies, but a clear signal to President Trump that we will not let him destroy our Constitution and our American values.”

“James Madison, the author of the First Amendment, said America would be a home for people fleeing from religious and political persecution from all over the world.  From the beginning, our nation has been populated by waves of immigrants and refugees escaping religious persecution and hostility from theocrats and dictators imposing thought control on their people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin. “When immigrants set foot in America, they are in a land that does not discriminate against people based on their beliefs about religion, whether they call themselves monotheists, polytheists, pantheists, atheists or anything else. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting the Freedom of Religion Act, which establishes in law this founding principle: that our government will not tolerate religious discrimination of any type against immigrants, refugees or visitors to our land.”

“We are at a turning point in our history. We must decide whether we stand for liberty and equality or oppression and bigotry,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar. “The Muslim ban is one of this Administration’s most potent symbols of hate—and it is having devasatating consequences on families fleeing hardship. As someone who came to the U.S. from one of the banned countries, I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to end this hateful ban and ensure that we live up to ideals of our nation.”

The Freedom of Religion Act has 124 original co-sponsors, and the support of a large number of non-government organizations including American Center for Outreach, American Humanist Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Amnesty International USA, Anti-Defamation League, Asian Law Alliance, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Bend the Arc, California Council of Churches IMPACT, Caring Across Generations, Church World Service, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights – CHIRLA, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), CREDO, Disciples Center for Public Witness, Disciples Justice Action Network, EMGAGE USA, Equal Partners in Faith, Franciscan Action Network, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Habonim Dror North America, HANA Center, Human Rights First, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Interfaith Alliance, Islamic Society of North America, J Street, Just Foreign Policy, Justice & Compassion Ministries, Cal-Pac Conference of the United Methodist Church, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, LULAC, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, Muslim Advocates, Muslim Community Network (MCN), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), NAFSA: Association of International Educators, NAKASEC, NAPAFASA, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Council of Jewish Women, National Employment Law Project, National Immigration Forum, National Justice for Our Neighbors, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, NETWORK: Advocates for Justice, Inspired by Catholic Sisters, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, OneAmerica, Peace Action, People For the American Way, Presbyterian Church (USA), Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Secular Coalition for America, Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN), Shoulder to Shoulder, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Tacoma Community House, The Interfaith Center of New York, Unitarian Universalist Association, Welcoming America

Text of the Freedom of Religion Act can be found here.