Question: Should governments be able to create laws that prevent people of a particular faith from entering their borders?
Julia McKay - Unitarian Universalist
Rev. Julia McKay is the minister of High Plains Church Unitarian Universalist and a professional spiritual companion dedicated to embodied life practices that enhance our deepest ways of knowing.
Does it make a difference if the government has a state-endorsed religion or a “preferred” but not officially sanctioned faith? What about nations with no official religion? Or those adverse to religion? A state religion is often about who is granted civil rights, e.g., who has legal status, what “in group” is granted benefits over “others.” Christianity was usurped by Constantine’s Roman Empire only when the faith began to gain massive social power. So, was the contemporary ban on Muslim travelers to the U.S. because Islam is the faith most often backed by governments worldwide? Isn’t the deeper question really about what dangers we face when the power of government aligns with the power of faith?
Sarah Bender - Buddhist
Sarah Bender is a Roshi (senior teacher) in the Koan Zen Buddhist tradition. She is a resident teacher for Springs Mountain Sangha, a Zen community in Colorado Springs (smszen.org).
More than 7,874,965,825 people inhabit Earth. There are 197 sovereign nations (193 United Nations members) and 4,300-plus religions. The International Human Rights Declaration (UN, 1948) affirms the right to seek a safe place to live and the right to believe what we want; and one of the Covenants on Human Rights “calls for prohibition by law of any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” Barring people on the basis of their beliefs, instead of behavior, violates international agreements; it harms not only those wishing to enter a nation, but also the people national laws are intended to protect. Fanning religious fear and intolerance produces internal violence, where healing and understanding are essential to our survival.
Ray Hendershot - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Ray has served on a mission to England, has been a bishop, and has held other key leadership positions in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently, he works with other faiths to provide service to our community.
We believe in the right to worship God according to our conscience and allow all people the same privilege. Freedom of religion is a fundamental right in the United States and is protected by our Constitution. As citizens we are responsible to obey the laws of the country wherever we live or visit. People of faith who honor the laws of their country and desire to visit another country should not be prohibited, if they are willing to honor the laws of the country they want to visit. God has directed us to love our neighbors. People of faith should set examples of high moral standards and treat others as loving neighbors, as we are all children of God.
Bryan Garner - Ceremonial Magician
Rev. Bryan Garner is a published author, Ninjutsu instructor, lecturer and western ceremonial magician. He is currently pursuing ordination into the Apostolic Gnostic Priesthood of the Apostolic Johannite Church.
The issue really boils down to the individual believer. In religions where sacred texts require or encourage the suppression, oppression or obliteration of people of differing beliefs, this becomes unacceptable, especially for a believer that decides to follow these teachings literally. Without a doubt, imposing governmental restrictions could lead and has led to unfair discrimination against certain peoples. However, disregarding potential threats in favor of inclusion and acceptance alone has its risks. The government might be viewed as corrupt and bigoted for several reasons, many valid, but people killing other people over belief is unfortunately a long-lasting tradition in the history of humankind.
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