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Written by Don Byrd

In his Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, which got underway today, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), nominee to be Attorney General in the Trump administration, was asked about his beliefs regarding a ban on Muslim immigration.

Many religious liberty advocates pressed members of the committee to ask Sessions about this issue because he offered support during the campaign for then-candidate Trump, who proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States. Other statements from Sessions about Islam raised further questions about his commitment to religious liberty for all.

In response to questioning from Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), Sessions stated “I have no belief and do not support the idea that Muslims as a religious group should be denied admission to the United States.” You can watch the entire exchange below:

Earlier in the day, in questioning from Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) about the importance of religious liberty and specifically the enforcement of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), Sessions spoke generally of his support for the principle of granting religious accommodations, but did not mention RLUIPA in his response. You can watch that exchange below:


In questioning from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sessions insisted he would not support a law “that says you can’t come to America because you’re a Muslim,” but clarifies that an individual’s professed religious belief in harming others would be grounds for exclusion. You can watch that exchange below:

In questioning from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Senator Sessions attempted to explain his view of secularism. While he pledged to have absolutely no religious test, he seemed hesitant to agree with Senator Whitehouse that a secular attorney would have just a valid a claim to truth as a religious attorney.

You can watch that exchange between Senator Sessions and Senator Whitehouse below:

Check back with this post for more, including transcripts of exchanges with committee members on religious liberty topics as they become available.