POLITICS
03/06/2017 04:57 pm ET Updated Mar 07, 2017

Trump's Order Is Still A Muslim Ban, Faith Groups Say

Christians, Muslims, Jews and Sikhs agree: “A ban by any other name is still a ban.”

A wide spectrum of religious organizations and leaders came forward on Monday to denounce President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on immigration. 

After an initial version of the order, issued Jan. 27, resulted in confusion, protests and numerous legal challenges, the Trump administration was forced to issue a new, significantly scaled back travel ban.

The new version makes it clear that people with dual nationality, green cards, and current visas aren’t affected by the ban. It also strikes Iraq off a list of Muslim-majority countries from which some nationals will be barred from the U.S. for 90 days. Religious minorities will no longer be prioritized for admission and Syrian refugees are no longer barred indefinitely ― although they will still be affected by a blanket ban on refugee resettlement that will last for 120 days.

The new order still cuts the refugee resettlement program in half, capping it at 50,000. The ban will go reportedly go into effect on March 16.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (L), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R), deli
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (L), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R), deliver remarks on issues related to visas and travel after U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new travel ban order in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2017.

Faith-based organizations representing Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and other interfaith activists responded to the new order on Monday ― with many saying that the order was still a Muslim ban in disguise.

“This executive order, like the last order, is at its core a Muslim ban, which is discriminatory and unconstitutional,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

The Trump administration has denied that the ban targets Muslims, but critics see the order as a way for Trump to legally fulfill his campaign promise for a “complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country. The federal judge who blocked the implementation of the original order did so after failing to find evidence that immigrants from the Muslim-majority countries on Trump’s list had committed terrorist attacks in America.

CAIR’s admonition of the ban was echoed by other faith-based organizations.

Church World Service, a multi-denominational Christian coalition that assists the government with refugee resettlement, announced that it “strongly decries” the White House’s move. 

“Make no mistake: this rewritten version will have the same impact, while avoiding the court proceedings that kept the initial executive order from being implemented. It is a refugee ban. It is a Muslim ban,” the organization stated on Facebook. 

The Franciscan Action Network, a Catholic advocacy organization, stated that the order was a “defacto” Muslim ban that contradicts Catholic values and the example set forth by Pope Francis. 

“The Franciscan Action Network will stand in prayer and solidarity with Muslim sisters and brothers, as well as all refugees and immigrants, during the forty days of Lent,” Sr Marie Lucey, FAN Associate Director, said. “While opposing bans and harmful executive orders, we also pray for a change of hearts and minds of this Administration and legislators who support anti-refugee and anti-immigrant measures.”

World Relief is an evangelical resettlement agency that brought more than 500 conservative Christian leaders together to speak out against the previous executive order. The organization maintained its opposition to the ban on Monday, criticizing the government for drastically reducing refugee admissions.

“While we support our government in ensuring our safety and security, we believe that compassion and security do not have to be mutually exclusive. We believe that the order simply remains disproportionate,” World Relief President Scott Arbeiter said in a statement. “In our national experience, the actions mandated by this executive order are inconsistent with the security record established by the refugee program since its inception and even since 9-11.”

At a rally outside the White House on Monday, interfaith clergy and community leaders gathered together to call for the order’s immediate repeal. 

“Clergy and community leaders are calling on President Trump to immediately repeal this executive order and protect religious freedom. Our nation was founded to be a beacon of hope and freedom for people fleeing violence and persecution,” the advocacy group Faith In Public Life, which helped organize the rally, said in a press release. 

The Sikh Coalition responded by asking interfaith supporters to write letters showing solidarity to both Muslims and Jews. Sikh activist and scholar Simran Jeet Singh pointed out on Twitter that despite the revisions, the executive order is still deeply problematic. 

In a statement, T’ruah said that the new executive order is “more of the same Islamophobia that targets Muslims.”

“The Jewish community understands all too well the danger of compromising the civil liberties of any national, ethnic or religious group, or of holding entire groups collectively responsible for the actions of individuals,” the statement said. “Today’s executive order undermines our values and weakens the moral fiber upon which our nation stands.”

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