WASHINGTON – The following remarks were given by Rabbi Jack Moline at a press conference today organized by Church World Service at the National Press Club where interfaith leaders called on U.S. politicians to continue to welcome Syrian refugees. This press conference came after numerous Governors announced that their states would not accept Syrian refugees, and several pieces of legislation were introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate to stop the refugee resettlement program or to limit it to Christian refugees.

“My friends, when the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for office, it means no religious test. And when the President says there will be no religious test for our compassion, it means no religious test. When I suggest to you there should be no religious test for the humanity of a refugee from oppression, it means no religious test. When I tell you the Declaration of Independence insists that there is no religious test for unalienable human rights, it means no religious test. When I affirm that every faith community I know has no religious test for being a child of God, it means no religious test. When I say that there is no religious test for the devotion of parents to the safety and security of their children, it means no religious test.

“Listen to me, my fellow Americans and my fellow lovers of America. My people found refuge in this country when they were tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Your people came to these shores last year, last decade, last century – hell, if they came 250 years ago it’s still current events by historical standards. They weren’t all wealthy, they weren’t all smart, they weren’t all skilled and I am willing to bet they weren’t all nice. But they came here knowing that to hold office, find compassion, to flee oppression, to enjoy their rights, to affirm their humanity, to protect their children, to ensure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, there was no religious test.

“The founding president of this great country was the one who said “happily the Government of the United States…gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance,” and anyone who wants that job needs to live up to that mandate.

“So let me ask just one time, if the legacy of this country is to give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, what does that mean when our fellow human beings who are running for their lives ask us to be true to that legacy?

“Say it with me: no religious test.”

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 interfaithalliance.org.