Press Releases

31 Religious Groups Urge Congress to Bar Religious Discrimination in Immigration

WASHINGTON -- Today, Interfaith Alliance and thirty other religious organizations and organizations committed to religious freedom called on Congress to support legislation that would prohibit religious discrimination in U.S. immigration policy. Such legislation will be introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Don Beyer (D - VA) later this week. The letter, signed by Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and interfaith organizations, reads as follows:

Dear Member,

The undersigned 31 religious organizations and organizations that advocate for religious liberty, representing people across the country who follow a wide range of religions and beliefs, write to urge you to support legislation, to be introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) later this week, that would bar religious discrimination in U.S. immigration policies.

Our nation has a long and proud history of providing safe harbor for members of communities fleeing persecution and seeking a better life on our shores. Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus and atheists, among others, have all come to our country because of the religious freedom protected by our Constitution. These communities may have been met at first with fear, distrust and discrimination, but the First Amendment has allowed each to thrive and foster communities despite these hurdles. It is this commitment to religious freedom that has allowed religious diversity and practice to flourish in this country like nowhere else.

Today, this honored legacy is in jeopardy. Concerns about national security are mixing with unchecked anti-Muslim bigotry and fomenting unjust fear and scrutiny of Muslim refugees and immigrants. Sadly, that fear has led some to call for a temporary ban on Muslims immigrating to the U.S., to propose dramatically limiting the number of refugees our nation accepts, and to pursue a host of policies designed to make life difficult for Muslims in America. To close our doors to Muslim immigrants and refugees in need would betray both the First Amendment and our nation’s great history as an open and welcoming land.

The legislation, which will be introduced by Rep. Beyer later this week, is a simple measure that would bar the U.S. from denying a person the opportunity to enter this country based solely on his or her religion. This bill is an important step toward ensuring that our nation will remain open to people of all faiths and beliefs, securing the religious freedom of all.

Significantly, this proposal would not prevent our nation from proactively seeking to help persecuted religious minorities around the world find safety on our shores while also maintaining our national security. The U.S. would still be able to consider threats to religious communities as an important factor in asylum and refugee considerations, just as we did with Jews fleeing the Holocaust and the Soviet Union, Christians from the Middle East, and Buddhists, Catholics and other Christians from Vietnam.

This bill reflects our fundamental commitment to religious freedom by ensuring that our immigration policies honor the greatest chapters of our nation’s history of religious liberty. As a member of Congress sworn to uphold our constitutional guarantee of religious freedom, we urge you to support this critical legislation.

Sincerely,

Interfaith Alliance
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
American Humanist Association
Anti-Defamation League
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
Center for Inquiry
Christian Reformed Church in North America – Office of Social Justice
Church World Service
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Major Superiors of Men     
Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Habonim Dror
HIAS
Islamic Society of North America
Millstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Jewish Women
National Justice for Our Neighbors
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/ Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Union for Reform Judaism
Unitarian Universalist Association
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society

 

 

 

Rabbi Jack Moline joins call to RNC, DNC to address anti-Muslim bigotry in party platforms

Today a group of Muslim and interfaith leaders, under the auspices of the Islamic Society of North America and the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, sent a letter to the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee urging them to take a stand against anti-Muslim bigotry in their party platforms. Speaking at the press conference where this letter was announced, Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, said the following:

"Yesterday was the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, a man who genuinely needs no introduction. Among the remarkable statements attributed to him were the watchwords of generations: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Lots of people misunderstand that phrase to be about national security, but I have to remind you that, in that sense, eternal vigilance is also the price of totalitarianism. What Jefferson meant was that we must be vigilant about the human rights that secure the blessings of liberty.

"So I won’t suggest to you some version of 'they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.' My advocacy, Interfaith Alliance’s advocacy on behalf of Muslim Americans is not self-serving. Muslim American enfranchisement is not a privilege, something bestowed through the power and good will of those who can give and take away.

"It is a right – the same right as every citizen, every voter, every Democrat, every Republican. It is part of those unalienable rights that Mr. Jefferson affirmed as the bedrock of American society. And we, as people of faith, faith in God, faith in the goodness of government, faith in our better angels, and faith in the Constitution as the law that binds us all, stand with our sisters and brothers today to declare that we will protect the faith and freedom of every American as fiercely as we protect our own faith and freedom.

"Because it is right. Because it is our right. Because it is their right."

Interfaith Alliance Welcomes Reforms to Protect Religious Freedom of Recipients of Federal Services

WASHINGTON – Today, nine federal agencies released their final rules reforming the policies that govern religious organizations that contract with the federal government, seeking to protect the religious freedom of all those receiving government services. These reforms are the result of may years of lobbying and advising from Interfaith Alliance and partner organizations. Following today’s announcement, Rabbi Jack Moline, released this statement:

“The reforms announced today are a critical part of securing President Obama’s legacy on religious freedom and LGBT equality. No one should fear discrimination or intimidation when interacting with a federal contractor or grantee; no one should be compelled to participate in a religious ritual when receiving government-promised services. These regulations, while not perfect, bring the faith-based initiative closer in line with constitutional principles.

“We will be keeping an watchful eye in the coming months as these reforms are implemented. It is critical that we remember that they were drafted and proposed in the spirit of preventing discrimination and the inappropriate mixing of religion and government. Without a doubt, there will be those who seek to misinterpret these policies to push a narrow, sectarian vision of religious freedom. President Obama and Melissa Rogers are to be commended for advancing this work. However, our work is not done, and those of us committed to the First Amendment must remain steadfast in our efforts to untangle religious organizations and the government. We must fight to end the policy that allows for religious discrimination in hiring by federal contractors and grantees. We must prevent federal funding from being used for any form of proselytization, or subsidizing all kinds of discrimination and bigotry.”

Interfaith Alliance Responds to Donald Trump’s Questioning of Chris Matthews' Faith

WASHINGTON – During an interview today Chris Matthews asked Donald Trump whether he believed women should be punished for having an abortion, Mr. Trump responded by challenging Mr. Matthews about whether he agreed with his own faiths teachings on the issue. While Interfaith Alliance is neither a pro-choice nor pro-life organization, the organization monitors the use and abuse of religion in government and on the campaign trail. Following this troubling interaction, Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:

“While answering an important question about whether his position on abortion would include penalties for the women who seek them, Donald Trump, chose to make his answer about the interviewer’s faith, asking Chris Mathews if he was aware of the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion. All those who cherish religious freedom should be concerned when a candidate for President frames public policy positons around religion rather than the law.

“Chris Matthews’ response powerfully demonstrated what the Constitution asks from all Americans: to consider the secular good for people of all religions while holding true to your understanding of your own faith. And understanding that being true to your faith does not require imposing those beliefs on others by codifying them in to law. Any candidate for public office, much less the highest office in the land, should demonstrate an understanding of the First Amendment’s promise of freedom of religion.”