Written by Don Byrd

Earlier this week, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) announced he has re-introduced the Freedom of Religion Act. Originally proposed in 2016 as a response to President Trump’s travel ban proposal, HR 5207 prohibits the use of an immigrant’s religious belief or non-belief as grounds for denying entry into the U.S. More than 120 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill, which is supported by several nonprofit organizations including the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.

Rep. Beyer issued a press release that included quotes of support for the legislation from several representatives, like this powerful statement from Maryland representative Jamie Raskin.

“James Madison, the author of the First Amendment, said America would be a home for people fleeing from religious and political persecution from all over the world.  From the beginning, our nation has been populated by waves of immigrants and refugees escaping religious persecution and hostility from theocrats and dictators imposing thought control on their people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin. “When immigrants set foot in America, they are in a land that does not discriminate against people based on their beliefs about religion, whether they call themselves monotheists, polytheists, pantheists, atheists or anything else. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting the Freedom of Religion Act, which establishes in law this founding principle: that our government will not tolerate religious discrimination of any type against immigrants, refugees or visitors to our land.”

Beyer explained that he is reintroducing “because portions of President Trump’s Muslim Ban remain in force and are at odds with American values and principles.” 

In June, a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Travel Ban against a religious liberty challenge, ruling that the deference owed to the president on national security concerns required acceptance of the order. The BJC condemned the decision as “neglect[ing the court’s” duty to uphold our First Amendment principles of religious liberty.”

For a list of the organizations supporting the Freedom of Religion Act, see Rep. Beyer’s press release. Bookmark this blog and follow (@BJCBlog) me on Twitter for updates on this bill as it makes its way through Congress.