http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/Donald_Trump_1_Credit_Christopher_Halloran_via_wwwshutterstockcom_CNA_1_13_16.jpgWashington D.C., Jan 14, 2016 / 03:25 am (CNA).- A prominent proposal by GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump would ban Muslim immigrants from entering the U.S. and would monitor mosques in the country.
The idea has garnered no shortage of publicity – or controversy. But religious freedom advocates say such measures could endanger the religious freedom of all faiths.
“Our nation was founded by religious dissenters who fled statist persecution in Europe and ratified a First Amendment that guarantees the free exercise and free speech rights of all persons of faith – including Muslims,” Matthew Kacsmaryk, deputy general counsel at the Liberty Institute, told CNA.
“An indiscriminate ban on all Muslims violates the very ‘first freedom’ principles that inspired dissident Puritans, Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics to seek refuge in the new world,” he said.
“Having once felt the sting of religious persecution in the United States, American Catholics understand that the majority can do great violence to the constitutional rights of an insular religious minority. Consequently, faithful Catholics should stand athwart any government policy that indiscriminately targets Muslims because they are Muslim.”
Trump’s proposal comes after a string of terrorist attacks, including the Dec. 2, 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 22 more seriously injured.
The San Bernardino shooters – Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik – opened fire at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. They were later killed by police. The married couple pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on social media shortly before the attack.
Farook, a U.S. citizen, and Malik, a Pakistan national, began plotting a terror attack before they were engaged and before Malik moved to the U.S. last year from Saudi Arabia on a K-1 fiancee visa, according to authorities.
According to a 2012 U.S. Religion Census, Islam is the fastest growing religion in America, with numbers of Muslims in the U.S. more than doubling from 2000 to 2010. The Pew Research Center has estimated that the population of U.S. Muslims will more than double again over the next two decades, reaching 6.2 million in 2030.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved funding to issue nearly 300,000 visas to immigrants from Muslim countries in 2016.
In light of the terrorist attacks – both abroad and on U.S. soil – Trump suggested banning non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States.
However, the proposal has drawn intense backlash, both from those concerned about its humanitarian effects on those trying to flee violent countries and those concerned with its effects on religious liberty.