capitol longshotWritten by Don Byrd

Today, U.S. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) and more than 50 House co-sponsors introduced legislation that would ensure individuals are not denied entry into the U.S. solely because of their religion. The Freedom of Religion (FOR) Act would prohibit the government from discriminating on the basis of religion in determining who is allowed to enter the country.

This proposal is a welcome retort to some of the unfortunate rhetoric we have heard during this presidential election season. The outrageous idea of banning Muslims, for example, from the United States would turn our backs on our fundamental religious freedom principles. The FOR Act sends a clear message that the U.S. does not and will not follow such dangerous and divisive policies.

Several religious liberty advocates, including the Baptist Joint Committee, support Rep. Beyer’s proposal. A letter to House members signed by the BJC urged Representatives them to support the FOR Act. Here is an excerpt:

Concerns about national security are mixing with unchecked anti-Muslim bigotry and fomenting unjust fear and scrutiny of Muslim refugees and immigrants. Sadly, that fear has led some to call for a temporary ban on Muslims immigrating to the U.S., to propose dramatically limiting the number of refugees our nation accepts, and to pursue a host of policies designed to make life difficult for Muslims in America. To close our doors to Muslim immigrants and refugees in need would betray both the First Amendment and our nation’s great history as an open and welcoming land.

. . . This bill is an important step toward ensuring that our nation will remain open to people of all faiths and beliefs, securing the religious freedom of all.

The BJC has spoken out consistently against anti-Muslim bigotry, rhetoric and policy proposals. Supporting the FOR Act is a common sense and effective way for Americans to protect religious freedom while voicing their displeasure over ugly foreign policy proposals we have heard. Here’s hoping the FOR Act finds broad, bi-partisan support.