Christian Clergy Join AU In Challenging Trump’s Muslim Ban

Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle will hear arguments on whether President Donald J. Trump’s second Muslim ban should remain on hold nationwide.

Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this case, State of Hawaiʻi v. Trump, asking the court to uphold the ruling of a federal judge who blocked the ban in March. If allowed to go into effect, the ban would cause immediate harm to the American Muslim community.

As in a brief AU filed in another case challenging the ban, International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, we argue that the president’s executive order is the un-American Muslim ban he promised while on the campaign trail, and that it is unconstitutional because it discriminates against Muslims based solely on their religion. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia heard arguments in IRAP v. Trump last Monday; we’re awaiting a ruling on whether that appeals court will uphold a Maryland federal judge’s injunction blocking the ban.

AU’s briefs were joined by Bend the Arc, the Southern Poverty Law Center, several faith leaders and the Riverside Church in New York City. Pastor George Mekhail, director of partnerships and innovation for the Riverside Church, was one of the clergy members to join us.

“I would summarize my decision to join personally as a simple act of solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters,” Mekhail told AU. “Christian leaders should be concerned by the co-opting of the Jesus narrative in the name of Nationalism and fear. Lending my name to this brief is a very small gesture and the least I can do to reject this irresponsible Muslim ban.”

As the clergy note in the briefs: “Among other concerns, the Executive Order risks being misunderstood as representing our faith, furthering the inaccurate and harmful narrative that America is a ‘Christian Nation’ – a message that we strongly reject. And the Executive Order will correctly be interpreted by the world as bare discrimination against Muslims. It is precisely actions of this nature that perpetuate inaccurate narratives and harmful stereotypes and undermine the arduous path to peace between the world’s two largest faiths.”

Americans United joins with the many organizations and individuals protesting President Trump's Muslim ban.

AU’s brief in State of Hawaiʻi v. Trump includes seven Christian faith leaders from Colorado, Florida, Minnesota and New York.

“Although the Executive Order’s discriminatory treatment of Muslims will be interpreted by many in the global community as a statement from Christians, it does not represent our will or our position as the actual representatives of our faith,” they state in the brief. “As Christian leaders, we did not and do not request preferential treatment for adherents of our faith. The mere risk of appearance that the American government is in any way, shape, or form representing the Christian faith with this action is of grave concern to us and should be to the courts and to the American people, regardless of their faith affiliation.”

Mekhail told AU, “I will continue to use whatever voice I have and encourage other Christian leaders to speak up for any marginalized group, especially when that marginalization is happening under a pseudo-Christian banner.”

You can show your support for the Muslim community and highlight these important court hearings by joining in the week of action that culminates today. Use the #NoMuslimBanEver hashtag on social media, and, if you’re near Seattle today, join the rally at the federal courthouse during the hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m. PDT (12:30 p.m. EDT). You can also watch today’s arguments live.

Finally, you can follow all of AU’s work combating Trump’s Muslim ban here. In addition to filing briefs in the cases mentioned above, AU and our allies filed a lawsuit, Universal Muslim Association of America v. Trump, to fight the ban. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., issued an order last week indicating she believes the president’s Muslim ban is likely unconstitutional and stating she’s prepared to rule on our request for a nationwide preliminary injunction if the existing injunctions in the IRAP and Hawaiʻi cases are lifted by the federal appeals courts.