The Freedom From Religion Foundation has signed on to an amicus brief before an appeals court against the Trump administration’s travel ban.
The case (International Refugee Assistance Project et al. v. Donald J. Trump et al.) is before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that President Trump’s ban on immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries could proceed. Now, the 4th Circuit must decide whether the Muslim ban fails even under the extremely deferential review standard called for by the Supreme Court.
In their amicus brief, FFRF and more than a dozen other civic organizations point out that the currently enforced presidential executive order and its two prior iterations have all been fueled by anti-Muslim prejudice and stereotypes, as evidenced by the president’s own words. “When someone in a position of authority, as is President Trump, categorizes Muslims as dangerous and as terrorists, he communicates that they are ‘outsiders’ and not full members of the political community,” the brief argues. Put simply, having the government ratify the president’s prejudice creates a “climate for discrimination” against a vulnerable minority religious group, the brief asserts.
The groups signing on to the brief, filed by the Bernabie & Kabat law firm, include the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Urban League, the People for the American Way Foundation and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.
While in this instance Christian Nationalists have leveled government power against Muslims, under this administration the Christian Nationalist agenda has been felt by religious minorities and nonreligious citizens alike in different contexts.
“By way of illustration, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a school-sponsored religious message, delivered over the school’s public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, under the supervision of the faculty, and pursuant to a school policy,” the brief adds as context. “The Supreme Court’s reasoning was based on its view that the school policy created two classes of people — those who adhered to the favored religion, and those who did not. The president’s steadfast support of what he calls a ‘Muslim ban’ similarly sends the message that those who adhere to Islam are not part of American society, as opposed to non-Muslims, who are favored by the ban.”
The brief details the social toll that this officially discriminatory approach has taken, including violence against minorities in this country.
“The latest executive order and the underlying statements by the president have only encouraged stereotyping of Muslims, which has adversely affected all Muslims in the United States and has harmed our society as a whole,” the brief concludes.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is objecting to the travel ban from a distinct perspective.
“We’re happy to sign on to a brief in opposition to a policy that impinges on the rights not just of Muslims but also of believers of other types and of nonbelievers,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The Trump administration is painting with such a broad brush that innumerable innocent folks are being affected.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national state/church watchdog organization with more than 30,000 nonreligious members and several chapters all over the country.