WASHINGTON – Today, the Obama Administration released its long-awaited reforms to policies regarding profiling by federal law enforcement. These reforms add religion, gender national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories that law enforcement cannot consider in its investigations. However, today’s announcement unfortunately maintained broad exemptions for law enforcement operating in immigration, airport and national security scenarios. Following the release of this policy, Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance, made the following statement:
“Profiling of all kinds by law enforcement is, I believe, both ineffective and unconstitutional. Profiling on the basis of religion fundamentally misunderstands the complex nature of our religious identities and the diversity of our religious communities. To think that you know what someone thinks or how they might act because of where they go to church is simply absurd; to presume someone’s criminality because of how and with whom they pray is profoundly offensive. When law enforcement uses specific religious practices as criteria in their investigations, they chill the freedom of religious practice that is at the very core of American life.
“Today’s announcement by the Obama Administration that they have added religion and a number of other categories to those protected from law enforcement profiling is strong victory for our ideal of religious freedom in America. However, the practical implementation of this policy – maintaining broad exemptions for immigration enforcement, airport screenings and national security investigations – falls short. Religious freedom is only truly safe if it protected in every corner of the nation, in every facet of our lives. A person’s religious identity is no less complex when she is at the border. A person’s religious practices are no less personal and private when he crosses a TSA checkpoint. Our nation faces real security threats, but racial and religious profiling will not address them.
“While we welcome the progress toward religious freedom and equality reflected in today’s announcement, we urge the Administration to finish the task of eliminating law enforcement profiling once and for all.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.