One of the strongest images of the presidential campaign won by #Donald Trump was the then Republican candidate praying with a number of Episcopalian Ministers before a rally. The message was one of support from the ministers for. the businessman become politician. Yet the actions of President Trump give a message that should be abhorrent to any representative of a religion; that being a member of a certain religion is illegal.

Moslem ban

One of the first executive orders signed by the newly installed President was a ban on Moslem immigration from seven “at risk” countries in the Middle East.

The reason for the ban was to install a system of “extreme vetting” of refugees to ensure that no potential terrorists were amongst them.

At the same time in public statements, particularly to National Christian Broadcaster the President stated that preference would be given to Christians from those countries. With those statements the ban became an issue of religious freedom that was one of the reasons that it has been blocked in the courts.

As could be expected the ban was greeted enthusiastically by Trump’s core supporters. Sadly, some of them harassed Moslems within the country as widely reported in recent weeks. Effectively, in the minds of some Americans the ban became a de facto ban on the religion itself.

Protection of rights

These are issues that the White House beginning with President Trump should and must address. The image of the then candidate praying with ministers in campaign mode must not be taken as meaning that some select religions are suitable but others, even if only one, are not.

America has numerous religions in every town, from the Moslems to Scientology, the Jews to Sikhs and it must not be forgotten that the word Christian covers a wider range of differing beliefs and theologies all revolving around the man born in Bethlehem on Christmas Day.

Strangely, even now there still conflicts within the Christian groups with some that do not recognize others as Christians, as sometimes happens towards Catholics in particular. The perception of a ban on Moslems could open the door for directing antagonism against others based in their religion.

Judgments and executions

The Moslem ban points the spotlight on a basic right that is at the core of the freedom of religion enjoyed in the United States and all the modern Democracies.

Each and every individual must be judged on his or her individual behaviour and not because of their religion, skin colour or origins of any kind.

The United States already passed through a phase where a nationality suffered prejudice because of the actions of a small group that today would be called terrorists. In the early decades of the last century the actions of the anarchists with bombings and assassinations caused alarm within the community and since many of them were Italian led to open discrimination by the authorities against newly arrived Italian migrants.

This was the background for the famous Sacco and Vanzetti trial that ended with their executions in the electric chair. Any reading of court documents would clearly show that the case was decided on their beliefs and origins and not due to any evidence provided during the trial.

Yet, the Italians who suffered prejudice during this period would go on to become a mainstay of the United States and some of their descendants would even go on to positions of authority.

We should not need to look up history to remember this lesson. We should all realize that each and every one of us has the right to decide whether or not to believe in a God and which God we decide to follow.

Exercising this right must not be reason for suffering prejudice and the White House should remember this when undertaking any action which could make people believe that any religion could be illegal. The simple message is having a religion is not a crime.