When the Founding Fathers of the United States drafted the Constitution, they envisioned a country where its citizens had the freedom to practice any religion they chose. Thomas Jefferson wrote that “neither Pagan nor Muhammadan [Muslim] nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth due to his religion.” They didn’t want the citizens of the newly founded nation to face the same persecution that was so prevalent in the countries they had fled from. The Republican Party is filled with politicians who fetishize the words of our Founders to the point that they invent quotes from them to justify their absurd proposals, often use the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom as an excuse for their bigotry. Senator and fledgling GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz is one of the worst offenders. His distorted and cherry-picked interpretation of the Constitution was on full display earlier this year when he rushed to Kentucky in support of Kim Davis, the homophobic county clerk who was jailed for refusing issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: “Did we ever imagine that in the land of the free and home of the brave, we would be witnessing our government persecute its citizens for their faith?”
In what will come as a surprise to nobody, Cruz has promptly abandoned the principles upon which he’s based his entire insipid candidacy on, and voted in favor of religious discrimination against Muslims in a direct rejection of the religious liberty he claims to hold so dear and the words of the Founding Fathers that he claims to respect so dearly. Just a few months after his grand proclamations about government and religious freedom, he, as a member of the government, is persecuting our citizens for the non-Christian faith.
Cruz, along with David Vitter (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Jim Sessions (R-AL) voted “no” on Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) proposal to that would oppose using religious beliefs as a reason to deny anyone entry to the country. According to The Hill:
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The committee voted 16-4 on Leahy’s proposal, which would give the Senate’s backing to the idea that the U.S. government “must not bar individuals from entering into the United States based on their religion.”The vote comes days after GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump caused a political firestorm by calling for a blanket ban on allowing Muslims into the United States.
“I don’t want to stand by quietly and see the victims of terrorism and torture be demonized just so people will have a talking point for the local evening news,” Leahy said on the Senate floor. “We are better than this. The bill that my colleague, the junior senator from Texas, introduced an hour ago would prevent virtually all nationals of Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen from refugee protection regardless of how they suffered at the hands of terrorists and despots. Women fleeing gang rapes, children fleeing horrors we cannot even imagine, they would be closed off.”
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.