Following is the letter I received today from my (Muslim) Congressman, Andre Carson, in response to a letter I sent opposing a Muslim registry.
December 20, 2016
Dear Mr. Kisling:
Thank you for contacting me to voice your concerns about discussions of religion in politics. The opinions of my fellow Hoosiers are essential to the decision making process as a Member of Congress.
One of America’s most cherished rights is our Constitutional protection of religious freedom. This essential right to practice the religion of our choice – or no religion at all – is fundamental to what it means to be an American and a cornerstone of our shared values of tolerance, inclusion and acceptance. The ability of each individual to maintain his or her own religious beliefs has encouraged millions around the world to immigrate to the United States and has helped develop a more moral and hard-working society.
The First Amendment guarantees that Congress will make no law establishing a national religion or make any law restricting the free exercise of religion. The separation of church and state is sacrosanct. However, the Founders recognized that religion plays an important role in individual lives, and in public debate. Ideally, individual faith is demonstrated beyond words, with actions and deeds. The First Amendment also guarantees Freedom of Speech, which includes public discussion of religion. Ideally, this can be done in a respectful manner that recognizes the many faith traditions practiced across the country. Unfortunately, some people believe that their faith is more important than any other. Our Founders did not pick one religion over another, and neither do I. The practice of religion, or the choice not to practice a religion, is one of the most personal choices we make and such choices should be treated with the utmost respect.
Regardless of one’s faith or spiritual tradition, I believe most Americans want to build stronger communities where everyone can live up to the promise of our American dream – a more perfect union with justice, domestic tranquility and the blessings of liberty. Whether or not an individual embraces a specific religion or not, I believe every American embraces the view of our Founders, that we “are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” When I was sworn in as your Representative in Congress, I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. Please know that I will do everything in my power to protect the Constitutional right to religious freedom enjoyed by every Hoosier and every American.
I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this important issue and I hope you will continue to contact my office on future issues. I encourage you to visit my website at http://carson.house.gov where you can view the latest news and updates about pertinent issues and legislation important to you, or follow me on Twitter @RepAndreCarson. You may also sign up for my weekly e-newsletter The Carson Courier to receive periodic updates on my activities in Indianapolis and in Washington, D.C. As always, my staff and I are here to serve you. Please feel free to contact me if we ever can be of further assistance to you.
Member of Congress
[ One of my photos of Congressman Carson. Here in downtown Indianapolis during the Pride Parade ]