Monday evening, fresh off of the welcoming news that the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the injunction against Muslim ban 2.0, I participated in my first HIAS (formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) action meeting at the Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington D.C.
I was born in the United States, as were my parents and three-quarters of my grandparents. I was educated at public schools, I pay taxes and I vote. I’ve spent most of my adult life working as a journalist and now for an organization that advocates for religious freedom, so you could say I live and breathe the First Amendment.
But according to a third of my fellow citizens, I’m not “truly American” because I’m not a Christian.
A lot has been said about President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries and blocking all refugees worldwide. A recurring argument, it seems, is that Trump has a moral obligation to prioritize Christian refugees and other minority-religion refugees from Muslim-majority countries – something he went on the record saying he would do.
Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to vote on the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as U.S. Attorney General. In anticipation of that vote, Americans United today joined nearly 200 other organizations on a letter organized by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights that urges the committee to question Sessions on his role in developing executive orders and proposals advanced by Pres. Donald Trump this month.
Americans United staff joined faith leaders Wednesday in voicing opposition to any efforts by the Trump administration to use religion as a reason to bar refugees and immigrants from the United States.
AU Faith Organizer Bill Mefford and I attended an afternoon press conference at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and a prayer vigil at the White House to support Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders who spoke out against an anticipated presidential order that would ban immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries and block Syrian refugees.
As a candidate for president, Donald Trump vowed to ban Muslim refugees and immigrants. Just a few days into his presidency, it looks like he’s poised to act unilaterally to fulfill that promise.
Trump may as soon as tomorrow sign an order to temporarily ban people from coming to the United States from some Muslim-majority countries and halt refugees from resettling here. This action is clearly targeted at Muslims, and it is a breach of the foundational American promise of religious freedom for all. It’s fundamentally un-American.
A few days ago, a reporter asked President-elect Donald J. Trump about whether recent attacks in Berlin and Turkey had caused him to rethink or reevaluate his plans for a Muslim ban or Muslim registry. He responded, “You know my plans. All along, I’ve been proven to be right.”
Not-so-nice things have been happening in Minnesota lately for religious minorities. A recent Minnesota Public Radio News report highlighted a spate of disturbingly islamophobic speakers catering to the Religious Right’s rhetoric at events in largely rural areas of the state.