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 is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.