Leahy Statement On America's History of Religious Tolerance and Respect for Personal Freedoms

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Ranking Member, Senate Committee On The Judiciary,
On Religious Tolerance and Respect for Personal Freedoms

December 7, 2015

[NOTE: Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will be joined by faith leaders Tuesday at 11:30am in the Capitol for a press conference on the need to support refugees fleeing persecution and violence throughout the world.]

“I am appalled that some are espousing the hate-filled view that a country as great as ours should have a religious litmus test. For more than 235 years, the United States has upheld the freedom of religion as one of its founding principles. We have been a confident nation unafraid to welcome newcomers. Our willingness to take in the outsider who yearns for freedom and opportunity in America is a source of tremendous strength, whether opening our doors to Jews fleeing persecution, Catholics — including my ancestors — seeking a new life, or countless other groups, including Muslims. I am stunned that some, appealing to fear and intolerance, want to end this legacy and are launching direct assaults on these American values. To reject those of a particular faith is unwise, and it is un-American. Leaders should appeal to the best in us by embracing the shared ideals of tolerance and diversity that bind Americans together. Jockeying for attention by spouting ignorant rhetoric that seeks to divide us for personal political gain is unworthy of anyone who truly deserves to lead this great nation.

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