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What U.S. Religious Liberty Means — Especially When It Comes To Islam

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The trump administration is made religious liberty a central theme of this presidency for example the US department of health and Human Services now has a conscience and religious freedom division the president has champion judges who have ruled in favor of people seeking religious exemptions to laws and just last month the White House strengthen protections for kids who want to pray at school as mood and is part of my dean is part of the inclusive America project at the Aspen Institute she is also the author of a book on religious liberty called when Islam is not a religion she told me that president trump's focus marks a change from previous administrations there has been just a more pronounced public affirmation of the positive role of religion in American society the need to protect it often we hear from various government officials whether be Mike Pompeii or president trump or US Attorney General bill Barr or even just sessions when he announced religious liberty task force of the department justice is constant refrain about religion is under threat by secularization threatening forces but on on the left to the protection of religion and the protection of our religious freedom that has become a constant refrain what communities have benefited from the administration's attention to the issue or their religious communities that have essentially been left out yeah so we can then candidate Ted Cruz said that it was he called it the religious liberty of election and he said that it was ultimately about like the person who would be able to defend religious liberty the vast and president trump and Ben Carson I'm ricksantorum all got on the bandwagon said absolutely this is about religious liberty and we're going to protect religious liberty for elected president but at the same time as they were making the statement there also competing with each other to determine who could be the most discriminatory against Muslims whether it be present from suggestions about creating a Muslim registry or about banning Muslims from U. S. which as we know when he has before with that as well or be Ted Cruz's suggestion that we surveil Muslim neighborhoods in the aftermath he brought that up in the aftermath of a terrorist incident or ricksantorum saying that Islam absolutely was different from Christianity fee so that is not ours protected under the first amendment as Christianity is and so there was like this obvious hypocrisy so what you saw was a creation of a hierarchy of faith even within this world of law to me yes I even beyond just the creation of a hierarchy I actually saw denial of a song even being a religion that had access through religious freedom another suggestion that present from brought up during the campaign was to close down mosques when you create such as Turk disparity between types of things that you're willing to protect for quote unquote religion and then say that the most basic of religious freedom rights are not afforded to a particular group of people you know how exactly are you explaining that what's the logic there and it didn't take much to figure out what that is because unfortunately increasingly common talking point among many people in the White House and in that sort of larger network is that Islam is not a religion it is a dangerous political ideology and therefore Muslims don't have religious freedom rights can you think of a policy directive from the trump administration that on paper looks good for religious liberties but in reality has really only been and that positive for evangelical Christians more or less just one group well I think that even in the space of Christianity increasingly you hear this I'll cry from our progressive Christians that they feel that the way that Christianity is being defined and champion tends to only happen from this particular angle and of course a constant concern in the context of specifically the sexuality related culture wars is that the rights of LGBT individuals including all your between the visuals of faith or people who hold different positions on abortion contraception from real religious standpoint are being undermined and to that end I think that is has to come from an understanding that religious liberty is not in some way just to safeguard for traditional religious beliefs it is a secret just for beliefs of a wide diversity anywhere they fall on the political spectrum and again the diverse religious spectrum and so what I hope for and I do see some movement on this for more progressive religious liberty groups to bring to the fore more progressive religious claims and say look religious liberty is for this too my concern is that if the rhetoric in the op in the enforcement of some of these policies continues to be only it's thought through in the frame of traditional religious beliefs then there will be other types of religious claims I won't be as protected I don't really have a concrete examples are not being protected but I do see this increasing sort of urgency from our progressive groups to be like what we have these claims to and because religious liberty protects the range and doesn't privilege one particular interpretation or another that are religious claims are also protected husband Jean thank you so much for speaking with us thank you as a dean is part of the inclusive America project at the aspen institute and the author of the book when Islam is not a

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