June 2018 Church & State Magazine - June 2018

AU Joins Allies To Urge Supreme Court To Affirm ‘No Muslim Ban Ever’

  Liz Hayes

Americans United staff, supporters and allies descended on the U.S. Supreme Court on April 25 as the justices heard arguments in the Trump v. Hawaii lawsuit that challenges President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

AU President and Chief Executive Officer Rachel Laser led the AU contingent who joined the “No Muslim Ban Ever” rally in front of the court. Laser spoke from the podium alongside people who have been harmed by the ban, activists, leaders of allied organizations, lawmakers, artists and others.

“None of us are fooled. We know the Muslim ban’s true intent is to narrow the space for religious diversity in our country. To please those who seek to protect Christian – white Christian – dominance in American religious life,” Laser said. “We know America is at its best when all religions are welcome here.”

Laser and David P. Gushee, president of the American Academy of Religion and distinguished university professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University, made a similar point in their opinion column that was printed by Religion News Service that day: “The Muslim ban is emblematic of the struggle over the direction of our country. We choose the path that affirms the human dignity of every person, embraces diversity, welcomes the stranger and reflects American constitutional values. We sincerely hope the Supreme Court will be on the right side of history and uphold the Constitution’s promise of religious freedom for all.”

Laser concluded her rally remarks by leading the crowd in the chant, “All religions welcome here!” The same message was prominently displayed on AU’s rally signs that were featured by several media outlets and allied organizations in their coverage of the event.

Also speaking at the rally was Mana Kharrazi, executive director of Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB), a nonprofit that serves the Iranian diaspora community. IAAB is one of the plaintiffs represented by AU, Muslim Advocates and the law firm Covington & Burling in the lawsuit IAAB v. Trump that also challenges the Muslim ban.

On behalf of the IAAB v. Trump plaintiffs, AU and allies filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court in the Trump v. Hawaii case to highlight how Muslims in America are being harmed by Trump’s ban. On AU’s website and social media platforms, AU also has compiled stories from American Muslims and people perceived to be Muslim who have been harmed by the ban and the anti-Muslim rhetoric that surrounds it.

Kharrazi was inside the courtroom to hear the arguments, as was AU Legal Director Richard B. Katskee, Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luch­en­itser and Senior Litigation Counsel Eric Rothschild.

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There can be no freedom for any of us in America until we are all free to live our lives without fear that we will be harmed because of who we are, what we look like or what religion we practice.

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