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 is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.