Yasmine Taeb's investment in the fight against government-sponsored religious discrimination is personal. She and her family are Iranian-American Muslims, with many family members living in Iran who "are absolutely impacted" by President Donald J. Trump's executive order barring entry to the United States for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.
"Any time anyone from an impacted community is able to lobby and advocate on these issues ... I think it's all the more powerful," Taeb, who directs the human rights and civil liberties program of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker organization dedicated to "peace, justice, opportunity and environmental stewardship," told Church & State.
Trump campaigned on a call for "a total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States," and his administration moved quickly to fulfill that promise. It took his administration a couple of attempts to implement a Muslim ban because federal courts blocked both of them, but in late June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parts of his ban could stand temporarily. Exceptions were made for those individuals with a "bona fide" relationship to the U.S., meaning that those with a family relationship--mostly immediate family--may visit. The high court scheduled oral arguments for further deliberation Oct. 10.
Working to defend the rights of Muslim immigrants and refugees is one of FCNL's many causes, and the organization is among many within the faith community pushing against Trump's policies that are harmful to religious freedom. In April, FCNL partnered with 48 other faith-based organizations to file an amicus brief with the U.S. 4th and 9th Circuit Courts in protest of the president's executive orders, referring to them as "discriminatory and unconstitutional."
For the Quaker community, Taeb said, a memory of persecution is part of the impetus to act.
"Quakers were once persecuted for their religion. This is an issue that really matters to them," Taeb said. "For [FCNL] it has always been important to make sure that we are on the front lines, that we are doing what we can to ensure that the rights of other faith communities are protected ... this community itself wants to be there when other faith communities are under attack."
They aren't alone. Since Trump took office, a rising tide of dissenting religious voices have swelled up in opposition to his policies. The trend caught the attention of the media early on. In March, Reuters disseminated a story nationwide headlined, '"Religious Left' Emerging as U.S. Political Force in Trump Era." One leader, the Rev. William Barber II, a Disciples of Christ minister who led protests against North Carolina's far-right state government, has become a national figure.
Not everyone involved in this growing movement leans to the left. Some groups are centrist or non-partisan. But all share the idea that Trump's vision of church-state relations, a view shared by his allies in the Religious Right, must be opposed.
Recent events have only spurred the movement. When...