A number of atheists groups (as well as religious ones) have sent a letter to five Republican members of Congress after they denigrated individuals and groups for their dubious or non-existent ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
We may not support government endorsement of religion but we also don’t believe a person’s faith should disqualify them from public service — certainly not for discredited reasons like these.
Text of the letter is below and you can see the PDF here:
Dear Rep. [Bachmann], Rep. Franks, Rep. Gohmert, Rep. Rooney and Rep. Westmoreland:
The 42 undersigned religious, secular, interfaith, advocacy, legal and community organizations are united by our work to protect religious freedom for all. As such, we write to raise our voices in protest of your recent letters regarding prominent American Muslim individuals and organizations.
These letters question the loyalty of faithful Americans based on nothing more than their religious affiliations and what is at best tenuous evidence of their associations. As such, your actions have serious implications for religious freedom and the health of our democracy.
In your open letters to the inspectors general of the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, you call for an investigation into individuals and organizations that you claim may have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The basis for these claims comes primarily from reports by the Center for Security Policy, known for its consistently anti-Muslim agenda.
Those you accuse — including Ms. Huma Abedin and leaders of the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and Muslim Advocates — have long-standing histories of positive and committed work to strengthen the United States of America.
Furthermore, we take offense to the implications of your actions for the American Muslim community as a whole, as you give momentum to “guilt by association” accusations and betray our foundational religious freedoms.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) spoke well of the vision of America jeopardized by your approach when he said: “When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.” More recently, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) provided a much-needed reminder about what religious freedom means in the United States: “… the First Amendment prohibits the government from making a distinction between what is a ‘good religion’ and what is a ‘bad religion.’”
Far from supporting the safety of our country, these accusations distract us from examining legitimate threats using proven, evidence-based security strategies. Moreover, we know all too well the danger of casting suspicion on loyal and innocent Americans simply because they hold particular beliefs. We will not stand idly by and allow our country to revive federal investigations into innocent individuals based on their religious adherence. We will continue to speak out in support of people of all faiths and no faith, and the religious freedom of all Americans to practice — or choose not to practice — a religion without fear of criticism or suspicion.
Signers of the letter include members of the Secular Coalition for America (American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance of America, Camp Quest, Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers, Secular Student Alliance, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism), the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Center for Inquiry, and the Interfaith Alliance.
“Our founders knew that the separation of religion and government was the best guarantee of freedom for all Americans — including religious and non-religious Americans — precisely for reasons such as this,” said Chris Lombardi, Secular Coalition Government Relations Manager.
“When an elected official uses his or her religion as a benchmark for patriotism, that immediately relegates other faiths — and those who practice no religion — to a second class status,” said Lauren Anderson Youngblood, Communications Manager.
What a perfect example of interfaith cooperation we should all be able to get behind, not standing for attacks on honorable Muslim-Americans.