Wide-ranging interfaith coalition backs ‘Freedom of Religion’ bill to stop Trump ban on Muslims

US Politics
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The Freedom of Religion Act introduced Wednesday in the House of Representatives tries to stop Donald Trump’s “temporary’” ban on Muslims entering the country. And this is before he even becomes president, which polls show is a real possibility, at least in a match up against Secretary Hillary Clinton. Incredible.

The FOR Act expands the age-old prohibition on religious tests on public office, a previously uncontroversial part of the Constitution, to prohibit religious tests that would bar entry into the country based on a person’s faith.

‘‘Notwithstanding any other provision of the immigration laws, an alien may not be denied admission to the United States because of the alien’s religion or lack of religious beliefs,’’ the bill states succinctly.

If America were a person, the bill would be the equivalent of writing a sticky note reminder not to eat shards of glass or drink paint. But dozens of congressional sponsors along with civil society and religious groups, representing a range of faiths, think America needs that reminder not to willfully self-destruct. Indeed, the lawmakers want to make a law, just to be safe. So far, the bill does not have a co-sponsor in the senate.

“Why are we having to do this? We need this bill because the constitution of the United States does not specifically protect immigrants, and does not give immigrants the entire array of Constitutional protections,’’ said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, one of the co-sponsors of the bill. “The very first Americans were refugees from religious oppression. It is unthinkable that in the 21st century a religion bar would be considered. Virtually every American believes there can be no religious test or exclusion of an immigrant to our country. That was the very first principle and it’s time we put that very first principle into law.”

Holmes Norton is right about the fleeing from religious oppression, but more specifically, some of the first Europeans to colonize the United States were fleeing from religious warfare that came about because state power and religious authority had joined forces. Those rivalries still smolder today in Northern Ireland, where a sometimes fragile truce keeps Catholics and Protestants at bay. But there’s a government-backed church in the United Kingdom. The Queen is its Supreme Governor. That’s not the case in America. President Barack Obama doesn’t sit at the top of a state Church. In fact, some Americans don’t think he’s even a Christian. But whether he is or isn’t doesn’t matter. In America, we take orders from professional decision makers, mostly lawyers or business types but sometimes former Saturday Night Live comedians. Some of us pay some extra money and get better access, but hey c’est la vie.

The purpose of the Constitution was to set out a secular system of laws that would let Europeans of different Christian get along without killing each other, something that had been impossible in Europe for hundreds of years before. But those principles work for non-Christians too. As we’ve seen this year, a Jewish man, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who expresses more admiration for the Golden Rule than anything else, has captured the hearts and minds of millions.

Rep. Don Beyer (Photo: Wilson Dizard)

Rep. Don Beyer (Photo: Wilson Dizard)

The FOR Act’s main sponsor is Rep. Don Beyer, of Virginia’s 8th District, where a molotov cocktail attack took place late last year on the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque as Trump revved up his anti-Muslim rhetoric. The incident prompted Beyer to condemn Islamophobia. His constituents were under attack and that’s his job. But he said he also felt that the bill helps show the world that the United States is a welcoming country.

Getting lawmakers to care about Muslim issues is difficult, since Muslims are unevenly spread out across the country. I asked Beyer what he’d tell his colleagues in congress who don’t believe they have Muslims in their districts.

“I’d ask them to look more closely. In fact, that’s a really good idea you had. This morning I got a list of all the defective bridges in my district. I get a list of commute times in my district. We should get a list of the Muslims per Congressional District” Beyer offered.

Just for the record, that wasn’t my idea. Beyer meant well, but, from what I understand, a government-held ‘list of the Muslims’ is exactly what civil liberties groups want to avoid.

Beyer added that there’s a practical reason for politicians to want to know these figures.

“But because so many of them [Muslims] are new Americans, they are good voters. They don’t take it for granted, it’s special,’’ he said.

On the other hand, politicians could just assume that there are Muslims in their districts, even if there isn’t a PowerPoint showing why it’ll help them win an election.

So far, the FOR Act is mostly a one party affair. In a sign of the deepening partisanship over civil rights policy, the bill only has one Republican co-sponsor, New York Rep. Richard Hanna, who represents Prius owners in Binghamton and also known leftists at the State University of New York campus there. He signed on late Tuesday night, Beyer’s office said.

Hanna wasn’t there Wednesday in the Congressional Auditorium at the Capitol Visitors Center, where sponsors and supporters gathered in front reporters to announce the bill. There were about a dozen reporters and photographers. It was springtime for Washington outside; chilly, rainy, gray and somehow still humid.

Cynicism aside, Beyer seemed sincere in his sponsorship of the bill. It was honestly heartwarming to see such a range of Americans represented on that stage on Wednesday. All three major Abrahamic religions were represented on stage for the announcement.  Imams and rabbis and lobbyists were just hanging out, talking political shop.

Rabbi Jason Kimelman Block, head of Bend The Arc, a progressive Jewish social justice lobby, read from George Washington’s 1790 letter to Jews of Newport Rhode Island, assuring them that religious liberty applied to Jews, too.

Left to right: Jason Kimelman-Block, Bend the Arc; Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR; Johari Abdul-Malik, Imam at Dar Al-Hijrah in Northern Virginia. (Photo: Wilson Dizard)

Left to right: Jason Kimelman-Block, Bend the Arc; Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR; Johari Abdul-Malik, Imam at Dar Al-Hijrah in Northern Virginia. (Photo: Wilson Dizard)

“For happily, the United States gives to bigotry no sanction to persecution no assistance,’’’ Kimelman-Block read from George Washington’s letter.

He added that Islam had been with the United States since Europeans brought Africans by force to the United State as slaves. Ten percent of them were Muslims, historians estimate, he said.

‘’Islam is not something new to America. It is who we are as a people in the United States. When muslims are singled out, are targeted and attacked, it is an attack on Jews, it is an attack on Mormons, it is an attack on Atheists it is an attack on Catholics, it is an attack on all Americans it is indeed an attack on the American idea itself.

‘’I think most  people would say that religious freedom is important, but a lot of people, especially if they live in Christian majority areas don’t stop and think about that the diversity,’’ said Holly Hollman, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

The Council on American Islamic Relations also endorsed the bill, along with 104 other groups.

“Islam is the least understood religion in the United States,” said CAIR director Nihad Awad, educating the public that Muslims aren’t a threat comes as “a humongous task.’’

“While being on the front page every day on the newspaper, but not understood,’’’ Johari Abdul Malik, Imam at the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque, interjected.

I asked Awad about what 2016 looks like for young Arabs and Muslims who had flocked to Bernie Sanders as an alternative to Hillary Clinton. Awad spoke as an individual, not for his organization.

“Bernie Sanders’s track record seems to be more clear when it comes to his support for issues for young people. They see Hillary as just as an establishment candidate. It is partly perception, but it is also her position on issues. Bernie Sanders has been consistent. She still has a great chance to communicate and get her message out,” he said.

Dennis Sadowski with Catholic News Service grabbed the first question after a series of remarks by legislators and civil society leaders, and asked Beyer to back up the bipartisan credentials of the bill.

“We were thrilled to get Congressman Richard Hanna. We have done specific outreach to those who have spoken out about the earlier Trump comments. So while we are officially bipartisan with Mr. Hanna, we’re not going to stop reaching out,” Beyer said.

Then there was a very perceptive question from Washington Post’s Julie Zauzmer, who wondered what effect the law might have on humanitarian immigration policies that aim to prioritize persecuted religious minorities.

“We want this bill to ban the negative use of religion. But it does nothing to hamper Homeland Security or Border Control to use religion as a reason to bring someone in,”  Beyer said, adding that a Syrian Christian family’s religious affiliation could speed their entry into the country.

Then came my turn. One of bill’s sponsors, Rep. Mike Honda [D-Ca] had seen my hand raised briefly and pointed me out to Beyer, who was at the podium. Honda, a Japanese American, had spoken moments before on the memory of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

I could’ve said “nevermind, thanks”  but in the moment I decided just to ask the first question that came out of my brain and see what happens.

“Have you heard anything from any of the presidential campaigns on this effort,’’ I asked Beyer.

“I have not personally,” he replied.

“We hope to!” Honda chimed in.

“I certainly hope that at least a couple will think it’s such a wonderful idea!” Beyer said.

If a presidential campaign were to stick its neck out for the FOR Act, they’d have a dizzyingly long list of groups on their side. Here it is;

  • American Center for Outreach
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
  • American Humanist Association
  • American Muslim Advisory Council
  • American Muslim Institution
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • Americans United for Separation of Church and State
  • Amnesty International USA
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Arab American Institute
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles
  • Asian Law Alliance
  • Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
  • Bend the Arc Jewish Action
  • Bread for the World
  • Brooklyn For Peace
  • California Council of Churches IMPACT
  • Caring Across Generations
  • Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
  • Center on Conscience & War
  • Church World Service
  • Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE)
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • CREDO
  • Disciples Center for Public Witness
  • Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Disciples Justice Action Network
  • Equal Partners in Faith
  • Emerge USA
  • Franciscan Action Network
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Human Rights First
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Institute for Policy Studies
  • Interfaith Alliance
  • International Center for Religion and Diplomacy
  • Islamic Society of North America
  • Islamic Relief
  • J Street
  • Just Foreign Policy
  • Korean American Resource and Cultural Center
  • Korean Resource Center
  • Leadership Conference of Women Religious
  • League of United Latin American Citizens
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • Lutheran Services in America
  • Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
  • Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
  • Muslim American Society
  • Muslim Community Network, MCN NYC
  • Muslim Public Affairs Council
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • National Employment Law Project
  • National Immigration Forum
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
  • National Network for Arab American Communities
  • National Religious Campaign Against Torture
  • NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
  • Office of Social Justice; Christian Reformed Church
  • OneAmerica
  • Pax Christi USA
  • Peace Action
  • People for the American Way
  • Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • Progressive Congress
  • Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Secular Coalition for America
  • Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
  • Shoulder to Shoulder
  • Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • South Asian Americans Leading Together
  • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Syrian American Council
  • Syrian American Medical Society
  • Syrian Emergency Task Force
  • T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
  • Tacoma Community House
  • The Center for APA Women
  • The Interfaith Center of New York
  • The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • Union for Reform Judaism
  • Unitarian Universalist
  • Unitarian Universalist Association
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
  • United Methodist Church Cal-Pac Conference
  • United for a Free Syria
  • UURISE – Unitarian Universalist Refugee & Immigrant Services & Education
  • We Belong Together
  • Welcoming America

 

About Wilson Dizard

Wilson Dizard is a freelance reporter and photojournalist covering politics, civil rights, drug policy and everything else. He lives in Brooklyn with his bicycle, camera and drum set.

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41 Responses

  1. just
    May 12, 2016, 7:05 pm

    I am very grateful for this report about a sadly necessary piece of legislation. Moreover, it’s so freaking great to see such solidarity against any “religious test”. That is one impressive list.

    I very much appreciate your articles and your attention to the world around you, Wilson. I also love your wit:

    “If America were a person, the bill would be the equivalent of writing a sticky note reminder not to eat shards of glass or drink paint. “

  2. Blaine Coleman
    May 13, 2016, 12:53 am

    It seems that Trump has been handed the steering wheel by the whole former BDS movement, because only a tiny handful of campuses have had BDS campaign this year, all of them in the past month or two. Hey, those were wonderful campaigns. They even won. But there only about five of them. Total.

    In practice, BDS has been replaced by campaigns for signatures on petitions against Islamophobia. Certainly at Michigan that’s the case. A big petition was published in the campus paper, full of anti-and-pro-Zionist faculty condemning Islamophobia, while BDS has simply vanished from campus discourse. These petition drives are very attractive to terrified ex-BDS proponents because they are on-line; no students need to show their face.

    BDS campaigns required that you physically show up at your student government and ask for divestment resolutions. Students are too terrified to do that.

    So anti-Islamophobia petitions and conferences have sprouted everywhere that BDS used to be, featuring speakers who used to be all about Palestine. Now they’re all about Islamophobia.

    So is BDS dead? I’m sorry to say that it is. If it’s alive, tell me where. Because I don’t see it in any newspaper.

    • amigo
      May 13, 2016, 11:10 am

      “So is BDS dead? I’m sorry to say that it is. If it’s alive, tell me where.” BC

      If you really want to know where it is , just google “why is Israel so worried about BDS. Do you have the courage to seek the truth.

      “http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/MK-Oren-calls-for-Hasbara-Iron-Dome-against-boycotts-439484”

      Fantasisng is fun , eh Blaine. If I ignore it , it might go away.

      • Blaine Coleman
        May 13, 2016, 1:18 pm

        In reply to Amigo:

        You seem to share the misconception that using the acronym “BDS” anonymously, or in a blog like this, is the same as a BDS campaign. No, a BDS campaign means real people demanding boycott or divestment against Israel in front of TV or newspaper reporters, so the public will know about it.

        I wish there were such real campaigns. They are the key to liberation for Palestine, because all other avenues are closed.

        You are correct that Israel is panicked about BDS. They would be more panicked if actual public BDS campaigns were happening on the front pages. You know, like the 1963 March on Washington. Like the Black Panther marches to free Huey Newton.

        Marches to boycott Israel, in your city councils all summer, on your campuses all through the autumn – those marches would mean liberation for Palestine. Because those marches would shatter the public atmosphere of silence and complacency and complicity.

        Anything less, like “Amigo” anonymously saying nice things about BDS, is welcome. Thank you, Amigo. But those exercises in anonymity are not a movement. So they will get you something less than liberation.

        Better to yell for boycott in your city council. If you have to do that without giving your name, fine. But you can’t sign up to speak anonymously.

      • Mooser
        May 13, 2016, 2:16 pm

        “No, a BDS campaign means real people demanding boycott or divestment against Israel in front of TV or newspaper reporters, so the public will know about it.”

        Maybe the BDS movement does not feel that is always the best way to go about it.

      • Blaine Coleman
        May 13, 2016, 9:45 pm

        In reply to Mooser:

        Exactly right. The current BDS movement has not gone for the 1960’s protest model, which changed the world.

        No, BDS has gone deep, deep underground. It consists of occasional grumbles at cafe tables and dorm rooms, never any public protest.

        With a few glorious exceptions (like CUNY grad students and University of Chicago students), there has been dead silence on BDS for 12 full months on virtually every U.S. campus.

        Dead silence for 12 months. That is one hell of a strategy.
        Instead, they have thrown themselves into anti-Islamophobia petition campaigns which demand nothing, nothing against Israel.

        We saw this movie before, in 2003. After two great national divestment conferences, both in 2002, the divestment movement largely dissolved into the general anti-war movement. Then when the issue of Palestine popped up inside that anti-war movement, the anti-war movement largely dissolved.

        Poof!

        This strategy is called racing for the lowest common denominator: we’re all against Islamophobia, right? We’re all against the war, right?

        The problem is that when you smother your conscience about Palestine, seeking some noncontroversial way to be an activist, you’re not much good as an activist, nor are the people you’ve surrounded yourself with. And then your “noncontroversial” movement dissolves.

        So, Mooser, silence about boycotting Israel is a strategy that just begets more silence. And silence = death.

      • just
        May 13, 2016, 10:14 pm

        Oh, Blaine. BDS is alive and well.

        Sorry it’s still not up to your particular standards.

      • Mooser
        May 13, 2016, 10:40 pm

        Thanks, Blaine. A lot of what you say is quite provocative.

      • diasp0ra
        May 14, 2016, 6:01 am

        @Blaine

        Yeah, BDS is so dead that Israel went and travel banned its co-founder. If it were dead and over then Barghouti wouldn’t be seen as a threat. He is. And it isn’t.

      • just
        May 14, 2016, 12:37 pm

        “Why Israel views peaceful activism as a threat

        World leaders like Barak Obama, Angela Merkel and David Cameron have all invoked the memory of the greatest peace activist of all – Mohandas K Gandhi – in recent times, as they lecture us about the power of peaceful activism. Gandhi fought courageously for India’s independence from the mighty British Empire while standing up for the rights of the poor. He achieved his goal without firing a single shot.

        Logic would dictate, therefore, that anyone who acts in the spirit of Gandhi would draw global admiration by relying on peaceful activism rather than violence, especially if their work is based in the volatile Middle East. However, when it comes to Israel, even peaceful resistance to its military occupation by the persecuted Palestinians is frowned upon or ignored; thus, it is unlikely that the plight of Omar Barghouti will be acted upon by Obama, Cameron, Merkel or any other international leaders. Who is Omar Barghouti? In short, he is a co-founder of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and BDS is quite possibly regarded as the biggest threat to the existence of the Zionist state because of its Gandhi-style resistance technique. It is a stunning tribute to people power, and when the people start to lead, their traditional leaders, elected or otherwise, become increasingly insignificant.

        If anyone doubts his power and influence in the region, then consider the fact that the Israeli government has just basically banned Omar Barghouti from leaving occupied Palestine by refusing to renew his travel documents. That a regime with the world’s fourth largest army in terms of the weapons at its disposal is afraid of one man speaks volumes about the power and influence that the BDS movement wields. …

        In America the influential Jewish Voice for Peace, activists from CodePink and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation have mobilised to exert pressure on US Secretary of State John Kerry to act swiftly to protect the rights of human rights activists. They say that Kerry is in an ideal position to intervene given that US military, diplomatic and economic aid to Israel is granted by his department on behalf of the Obama administration. The peace activists are currently collecting 20,000 signatures on a petition to reinforce their anger over the attack on Barghouti, who is guilty of nothing more than organising a non-violent way of fighting for justice, freedom and equality for the Palestinian people. …

        Both Gandhi and King have drawn adulation and admiration from the likes of Obama, Cameron and Merkel; it is time for these leaders to stand up to Tel Aviv and slap down a regime that not only regards peaceful activism with such fear and loathing, but also hints that it may respond with further brutality and repression. The time of double standards is drawing to a close; the time for peaceful civil society activism and government action against rogue states like Israel has arrived.”

        https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160514-why-israel-views-peaceful-activism-as-a-threat/

        Here’s a link to a link to sign: http://endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=4751

  3. Stephen Shenfield
    May 13, 2016, 5:44 am

    I wonder how Trump intends to implement his ban on Moslems entering the country. Would it suffice for a person simply to declare that he or she is not a Moslem? Terrorists could hardly be expected to answer truthfully. But there is no way of proving an inner belief or its absence.

    Historically, by the way, the conflict in Ireland is political rather than religious in nature — between Irish nationalists (“republicans”) and people wanting to remain in Britain (“loyalists”). Many of the founders of Irish republicanism were actually Protestants (details are in the lyrics of the IRA song “Protestant Men”).

    • Mooser
      May 13, 2016, 3:38 pm

      “I wonder how Trump intends to implement his ban on Moslems”

      I wonder how Trump intends to deport about 3% of the American population?

      All Trump ever did was make explicit all the things the Repubs have been hinting around and holding out as red meat. Well he called their bluff. And the party disintegrated. And those are the people the Dems are so afraid of for the last decade?

      • yonah fredman
        May 13, 2016, 6:24 pm

        mooser- the republicans control both houses of the congress.

        on a different point: the republican candidates for president always win the white vote. is it politically incorrect to raise this fact from time to time.

  4. Ossinev
    May 13, 2016, 7:49 am

    Are you now or have you ever been a Muslim ?
    Are you now or have you ever been an anti – Semite ?
    Are you now or have you ever been an anti – Zionist ?
    Are you now or have you ever been anti – Israel ?

  5. just
    May 13, 2016, 9:57 am

    Energizing and happy news:

    “US churches call for economic pressure on Israel

    The heads of Palestine’s major Christian traditions recently met with leaders from 24 church denominations for a two-day summit in Atlanta featuring an address by former president Jimmy Carter.

    Leaders of Palestine’s Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Armenian and Lutheran churches participated.

    The historic gathering, hosted by The Carter Center, culminated in a statement committing those assembled “to act for justice and peace in the Holy Land.”

    “We need to focus on bringing an end to the many elements of occupation including second class citizenship that is affront to Christ’s message of love and inclusivity,” declares the statement, which was endorsed by representatives from Palestinian and US church-related and civil society groups in attendance.

    Noting that next year marks five decades since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the statement asserts that “In the Bible, the 50th year is a year of jubilee when land is given back to its original owners.”

    According to Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran priest from the West Bank city of Bethlehem who helped organize the event, the summit was “unprecedented” and encouraged church leaders to foster stronger relationships between US and Palestinian communities.

    Commitment
    While the summit statement stops short of explicitly endorsing boycott, divestment and sanctions measures to hold Israel accountable, it does call for exerting “economic leverage” on businesses or governments that “violate international laws and conventions.”

    “This is a major step for some churches,” Raheb told The Electronic Intifada. “It is enough? No. But things are moving.”

    Raheb is one of the key authors of the 2009 Kairos Palestine document, a declaration by Palestinian Christian leaders that condemns the Israeli occupation and calls for “boycott and disinvestment as tools of nonviolence for justice, peace and security for all.”…”

    more @ https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ryan-rodrick-beiler/us-churches-call-economic-pressure-israel

  6. traintosiberia
    May 13, 2016, 11:08 am

    Trump did not bring Islamophobia to this country .
    Neocons did. Liberman did. Those who coined the word- Islamofasism- they did.
    Fox Network did.

    Islamophobia was the natural outgrowth of the same vision that promoted the search for a new enemy after the IndoChina wars came to an end in 1975( https://theintercept.com/2016/04/23/andrew-bacevich-and-americas-long-misguided-war-to-control-the-greater-middle-east/)
    Islamophobia was the new Communism after Soviet disappeared . It was so sincerely desired by both the Evangelics and by the Neocons that it is difficult to claim that the miitant t secularism or mi,itant religions are different by any measures . (The American Conservative page 8-9 July 17 th 2006)

    Trump is paying for somethg that he did not buy or own . He is being put through the meat grinder because he forsees an America that the neocon doesn’t like , because he called spade a spade,be ause he threw the whole shitload of lies back to the face of Jeb Bush by articulating the truth . The ” word ” came to life. Logos became the flesh .

    • Boo
      May 13, 2016, 11:54 am

      Trump has no ideology except for narcissism and greed. He’s a political weathervane of expediency. He epitomizes the worst of American society and if he were in fact made into sausage (to use your imagery) I wouldn’t feed it to the hogs.

      • traintosiberia
        May 13, 2016, 12:48 pm

        Trump has no ideology. Neither has Clinton or Cruz or Biden Obama, or Huckabee or McCain . You can add a few more randomly out of the mix.

        Clinton to Rubio and everybody in between could come across as pure
        evil narcissistic to an outsider living in Japan, India,Pakistan,Iraq,Syria, or any of the African or Latin American countries . They can afford because they not depend on foreign- them in any fashion or form though the locals do suffer or get affected by the policies of US politicians . Locals include the leaders and scholars .

        Clinton to Cruz and beyond can ignore thse countries because those countries don not shape or mold the news transmitted across America .

        Trump is in the same situation and more . He does not depend on the money and the media . Others do. Trump can afford to be narcissistic to the poor and rich alike and also to the rich powerful mover and shakers residing in foreign lands .

        He shows raw power at home that American leaders routinely uses abroad .

        This automatically gives hope to the rascals also known as racist and fanatics . There is always carpetbaggers. So I am not surprised to see some evil elements have found refuge in his bandwagon . But his message was simple-stop illegal immigration, ban on Muslim until things are sorted put and disengage from war,and renegotiate trade and military pacts .
        ( he did not say – Ban Muslim- period. He talked of identifying,knowing,Che king background, and having information I gather he as talking of illegal unknown immigrants . Though the media while keeping quiet on nefarious bills ,and ,behaviors targeting Muslim have kept quiet ,though people who advocating the profiling of Muslim and saw the sign of Islam and evil on the tattoo of the Virginia Tech Shooter rant against Trump’s crimes ,he keeps on unearthing their vid unscrupulous and corrupted expediency . )

  7. Boo
    May 13, 2016, 11:49 am

    I’m delighted my Rep is the main sponsor of this bill. I’m sorely disappointed that the Episcopal Church, USA (PECUSA) is not on the long and comprehensive list of supporters. I was a lifelong member until recently, now I belong to a union church (PCUSA and UCC) both of which are happily on that list.

    There’s no room for fence-sitters like the Episcopal Church any more. Either you’re for Palestinian rights or you’re against establishing justice for all. It really is that simple.

    • just
      May 13, 2016, 12:29 pm

      “There’s no room for fence-sitters like the Episcopal Church any more. ”

      Related to your point, Boo. From the EI article that I posted above:

      “… Authentic pilgrimage
      Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said in a press release, “Our people in America do not know the situation on the ground.”

      Holy Land tours popular with Christian pilgrims typically focus on sacred sites and ignore what Palestinian churches often refer to as “the living stones” – the people who still live in the land and face the daily realities of occupation.

      The summit statement calls for pilgrimages that include stays in “Palestinian towns and villages in order to engage with indigenous communities, to experience firsthand their hopes and fears.”

      Former President Jimmy Carter, who became the center of controversy with his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, made the concluding address at the summit.

      Carter told summit participants that their goals would “not have any effect unless the churches and members here work on them jointly, enthusiastically and aggressively.”…”

      https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ryan-rodrick-beiler/us-churches-call-economic-pressure-israel

  8. MHughes976
    May 13, 2016, 5:44 pm

    Were the very first Americans fleeing religious oppression? Many of the earliest English settlers were oppressed by the religious policies of the Stuarts. But there were others who deserve to be called Americans before them.

  9. Stephen Shenfield
    May 13, 2016, 7:28 pm

    Trump exploits people’s fears for his own purposes, but that doesn’t mean those fears are groundless. I’ve just been watching videos posted by people in Germany, Sweden and other European countries that have accepted large numbers of Moslem refugees, describing the aggressive, intolerant, and abusive behavior of many of those refugees, especially the young men (and much of that behavior is clearly related to Islam, like beating up women who don’t cover their arms). If people fear and hate Moslems that is mostly a result of their experience of Moslems, not because they have caught an ideological disease called Islamophobia. Just as many of the people who hate Jews do not suffer from an illness called anti-Semitism but have had experiences with Jews that give them good reason to hate them. Of course it is reassuring if they distinguish between “good” and “bad” Moslems or Jews, and some do, but I’m not going to judge too harshly those who fail to do so.

    I think that no specific freedom can be interpreted in an absolute manner without violating other freedoms that may be just as important or even more important. Freedom of religion too must have its limits. If there still existed a religion that practiced human sacrifice how tolerant could we be toward that religion? How tolerant should we be of religions that still practice genital mutilation of babies or children (of either sex)? Perhaps we should give priority to the right of babies and children not to be mutilated.

    Freedom of religion is itself a contradictory concept because some religions, including all three religions of The Book, have regarded or still regard desertion to a different religion (apostasy). doctrinal deviation (heresy), or expression of an incorrect attitude toward the deity (blasphemy) as crimes to be punished by imprisonment or death. Christianity had its Inquisition; in Russia apostasy from the Russian Orthodox Church was a punishable crime right up to 1905. As for Judaism, its holy books are also not notable for tolerance: in Deuteronomy God demands that blasphemers be stoned to death. In general, the religious freedom of so-called blasphemers, heretics, and apostates safely to follow their conscience clashes with the religious freedom of the “true believers” to kill them for doing so.

    • just
      May 13, 2016, 7:47 pm

      “If people fear and hate Moslems that is mostly a result of their experience of Moslems, not because they have caught an ideological disease called Islamophobia.”

      wow.

      Sorry, Stephen~ I don’t buy it. A miniscule number of people maybe, definitely not the majority. It’s been a deliberate program that has been nurtured and has spread like wildfire.

      Here’s UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender working definition:

      “Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise). Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.”

      http://crg.berkeley.edu/content/islamophobia/defining-islamophobia

      • just
        May 13, 2016, 8:30 pm

        Posted this evening in The Guardian:

        “Man pleads guilty to pulling off Muslim woman’s hijab during US flight …

        A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge after authorities say he grabbed a Muslim woman’s hijab on a Southwest Airlines flight in December and pulled it off.

        Federal authorities say 37-year-old Gill Parker Payne, of Gastonia, North Carolina, entered the plea Friday. He was charged with using force or threat of force to obstruct a Muslim woman in the free exercise of her religious beliefs.

        The two were on a 11 December flight from Chicago to Albuquerque when the confrontation happened.

        Authorities say Payne approached the woman, who was sitting several rows in front of him, and told her to take off her hijab – an Islamic-style headscarf – saying, “This is America!” He then removed the hijab from her head.”

        http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/13/man-pleads-guilty-removes-muslim-woman-hijab

      • eljay
        May 13, 2016, 9:01 pm

        … Authorities say Payne approached the woman, who was sitting several rows in front of him, and told her to take off her hijab – an Islamic-style headscarf – saying, “This is America!” He then removed the hijab from her head.” …

        So…America ignorance, intolerance, offensive behaviour or a fine blend of all three?

      • Mooser
        May 13, 2016, 11:42 pm

        Some ignoramus screeching about Muslims will try to pull the wimple off a nun before it’s all over.

      • just
        May 14, 2016, 9:55 am

        No doubt, Mooser.

        (brother, can you spare a screen wipe???)

      • Stephen Shenfield
        May 14, 2016, 7:36 pm

        just: On your substantive point please see my reply to Kay24 below.

        As for the “definition”–it says nothing about the content of Islamophobia. There is no way you could use it to determine whether or not a given statement is Islamophobic. And if the “Muslim threat” may be “perceived OR REAL” then why is the fear of such a possibly real threat necessarily “contrived”? Then the odd suggestion that Islamophobia may be targeted at non-Moslem communities. If those communities are not Moslem but Hindu or Buddhist, say, wouldn’t it be necessary to promote fear of Hinduism or Buddhism? Do you really find this sort of gibberish helpful?

      • gamal
        May 14, 2016, 8:52 pm

        “Mind you, I could plausibly defend my statement even in the distorted form given it by you by referring to the Koranic verses”

        oh shit you don’t know how badly you fucked up there, how could you,

        “in the distorted form given it by you”

        i need to lie about whats in the Quran Stephen, otherwise my inferiority would be obvious.

    • gamal
      May 13, 2016, 8:49 pm

      “large numbers of Moslem refugees, describing the aggressive, intolerant, and abusive behavior of many of those refugees, especially the young men (and much of that behavior is clearly related to Islam, like beating up women who don’t cover their arms). If people fear and hate Moslems that is mostly a result of their experience of Moslems,”

      In Germany one is unlikely to encounter the Muhammadan unless one leaves home dressed in accordance with Judeo-Chrisitian norms and therefore run the risk of violation at the hands of unruly young Islamobucks.

      “clearly related to Islam, like beating up women” and you draw a salary from a university? well done.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        May 14, 2016, 7:59 pm

        gamal: I have not drawn a salary from a university since 2000. More to the point, you distort my meaning by omitting the words following “women”: “clearly related to Islam, like beating up women WHO DON’T COVER THEIR ARMS” — that is, women who dress in accordance with non-Islamic norms and — in your own words — “therefore run the risk of violation at the hands of unruly young Islamobucks.” What then do you mean by “violation”? Not beating up, apparently. Rape perhaps?

        These German women have the strange idea that they have the right to dress in accordance with their own norms in their own country without running the risk of “violation” at the hands of foreign refugees.

        Mind you, I could plausibly defend my statement even in the distorted form given it by you by referring to the Koranic verses cited at https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/wife-beating.aspx (an Islamophobic source, no doubt).

    • Mooser
      May 13, 2016, 10:33 pm

      “Perhaps we should give priority to the right of babies and children not to be mutilated.”

      Oh goody, let’s talk about circumcision. A la brit priah

      “Just as many of the people who hate Jews do not suffer from an illness called anti-Semitism but have had experiences with Jews that give them good reason to hate them”

      Many”? Why not “all”? Why I, don’t think I’ve ever met a person who hated Jews who didn’t have a perfectly good reason to hate them. They know of many ways Jews are hurting people and ruining the world, even if Jews haven’t hurt them personally.

      That’s how far you will go so you can take a poke at Muslims, excusing antisemitism? Weird. What they ever done to you?

    • Mooser
      May 13, 2016, 11:36 pm

      “If people fear and hate Moslems that is mostly a result of their experience of Moslems”

      Had some bad experience, have you, Stephen?

      “I’ve just been watching videos posted by people in Germany, Sweden and other European countries that have accepted large numbers of Moslem refugees, describing the aggressive, intolerant, and abusive behavior of many of those refugees, especially the young men (and much of that behavior is clearly related to Islam, like beating up women”

      Videos, describing? Oh well, there’s no talking away that kind of direct experience. We’ll just have to wait until the injuries heal and the PTSD lessens somewhat. I’m sure it never really goes away.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        May 14, 2016, 8:20 pm

        Mooser: You have a really offensive style of argument. It’s difficult but I’ll try not to descend to your level.

        I did not claim that my comments arose from direct personal experience, so the fact that they did not does not discredit them. Aa a matter of fact, all my personal relations with Moslems have been positive. That is my good fortune. But I sympathized with the Germans in those videos who had suffered violence at the hands of “unruly Islamobucks” (Gamal’s term). Why should I not? Answer that.

        However, I have been traumatized by a Jew, while still a baby — as have you, Mooser! I believe you are right to say that the PTSD never really goes away, at the subconscious level. Your self-defensive attempt at ridicule falls flat.

        I don’t want to take pokes at anyone. But I shall not conceal my conviction that religion is harmful to civilized values, and some religions more than others, Judaism and its Islamic offshoot being among the worst.

      • Mooser
        May 14, 2016, 8:50 pm

        “You have a really offensive style of argument. It’s difficult but I’ll try not to descend to your level.”

        I’m pushy, very pushy, have a lot of chutzpah and I always try to bargain people down in any deal, too. Why do you think that might be?

        “I admit I took a one-sided position under the emotional influence of the videos I was watching. There are various causes and the hatred explodes when they combine.”

        I’m sorry I was offensive about your hatred.

      • Mooser
        May 14, 2016, 9:18 pm

        “However, I have been traumatized by a Jew, while still a baby — as have you, Mooser! I believe you are right to say that the PTSD never really goes away, at the subconscious level.”

        Yeah, whatever. I just try to tell myself there’s a big difference between PTSD and feeling sorry for myself.

      • oldgeezer
        May 15, 2016, 12:43 am

        @stephen

        I hear ya Stephen. Don’t let your personal positive experiences cloud what you hear on the internet.

        And while I don’t know whether that religion of peace sitr is Islamaphobic, or not, I would hazard a guess that being classified as a hate site and focusing solely on one religion just might give you half a clue. Well… provided you have half a clue to begin with.

    • oldgeezer
      May 14, 2016, 1:31 am

      @stephen

      Who is tbem? Jews or certain individuals who are Jewish. I think you need to clarify that.

    • Kay24
      May 14, 2016, 9:12 am

      “If people fear and hate Moslems that is mostly a result of their experience of Moslems, not because they have caught an ideological disease called Islamophobia.”

      There are many people in this country who have not met a Muslim, do not understand the religion, nor can identify Muslims.

      That is why an ignorant bigot walked into a Sikh Temple and killed many innocent worshippers, thinking those were Muslims. Also the Pamela Geller/Geert Wilders anti Muslim campaign and the deliberate campaign by unknown elements, who put in millions for promoting an anti Muslim campaign was helped by the zionist media in the US, and caused the element of fear among the ignorant in the country. It is completely different OUTSIDE the US. Research has shown that there is more violent deaths in the US caused by our own in gun violence, mass killings in schools and public places, and that deaths by Muslim extremists are far, far less in number.
      Yet, it is the fear of Muslims because of the reasons mentioned above still persists.
      It is all because of how hatred against all Muslims get promoted in the US.

      • just
        May 14, 2016, 1:16 pm

        ” It is completely different OUTSIDE the US.” & “It is all because of how hatred against all Muslims get promoted in the US.”

        Kay~ I’m afraid that it happens “outside” the US as well. It gets “promoted” in a lot of places.

        Interesting snapshot in The Guardian today:

        “What the rest of Europe thinks about Londoners picking a Muslim mayor

        People living outside the UK give their views on Sadiq Khan’s win and whether a Muslim would be elected where they live …”

        http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/14/europe-londoners-muslim-mayor-sadiq-khan

      • Stephen Shenfield
        May 14, 2016, 7:12 pm

        Kay24 — I don’t think it can be ALL because of one cause. I admit I took a one-sided position under the emotional influence of the videos I was watching. There are various causes and the hatred explodes when they combine. Would anti-Moslem campaigns have much effect if fear of Islam had no basis in Islamist terror and other real phenomena? I don’t think so. In that case the promoters would not waste their money. But the existence of real grounds for fear gives them their opportunity to magnify the initial popular reaction to terror. All the same, it is not they who create that initial reaction. The massacre at the Sikh temple could easily have happened even without the help of Geller & Co.

        just: There is one difference now between Europe and the US. Europe is taking in masses of Moslem refugees and the US is not. Many Europeans who have previously been tolerant of Moslems evidently feel intimidated by the “unruly Islamobucks” (as Gamal calls them)–their tolerance is being stretched to breaking point, and not as a result of anti-Moslem propaganda.

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