January 30, 2017
President Trump’s recent executive order limiting and banning Muslim immigration to the United States from seven countries strikes at the heart of the mission and values of the American Academy of Religion, a learned society of some 8,500 members.
Our organization is committed to excellence in the academic study of religion and to making our scholarship freely available in order to foster the larger public understanding of religion.
The ban impedes that mission. Faculty members, students, and independent scholars who study religion depend on the freedom of travel to pursue their work. Already we have received reports of scholars who have been prevented from returning home to the United States from research trips abroad. The ban will also impede international students who hope to study in the United States and to American students who plan to study abroad.
At a more fundamental level, the ban conflicts with our values. We hold dear diversity, mutual respect, inclusion, and free inquiry, all of which the immigration ban jeopardizes. The ban erodes our hope that these values will serve as the foundation for all governmental decisions regarding our members as well as our colleagues around the globe.
Finally, the ban poisons the public’s understanding of Islam in particular and religion in general. It blatantly and explicitly discriminates against Islam and Muslims, and appears to provide special treatment of Christianity. It violates our national commitment to welcome persons of all religions.
With learned societies, colleges and universities, and educational leaders across the nation, we call on the President and Congress to retract the Muslim immigration ban and to denounce religious intolerance in all its forms.