An amendment added to a Defense Department spending bill that intended to target Muslim faith leaders failed.
U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) added the amendment July 13, and it was voted down 217-208 the next day. The amendment would have ostensibly prodded the Pentagon to vet “violent or unorthodox Islamic doctrine” by surveying Muslim religious leaders.
Critics of the amendment argued that it was a violation of religious freedom because it targeted and discriminated against Muslims by showing government disfavor against the religion.
“Whether it targeted one religion or three, it’s inappropriate for the U.S. government to assess and qualify what is good and bad religion,” Robert McCaw, the government affairs director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Phoenix New Times.
Americans United also opposed the provision. In a July 13 letter to House members, AU Legislative Assistant Director Dena Sher wrote, “This amendment singles out one religion, its religious leaders , and its adherents for scrutiny – Muslims and Islam – which violates one of the First Amendment’s clearest commands. It casts suspicion on all Muslims, treating the religion they practice as suspect. This stigmatizes entire communities and sends the message that they should not practice their faith in the same way members of other religious commuities do.”