Progressive faith leaders from a diverse range of religions officially decried the advisers and cabinet members appointed by President-elect Trump, calling them a “Cabinet of Bigotry” and demanding that the former reality TV star find more inclusive members for his staff.
As reported by the Episcopal News Service, a group of prominent Catholic, Protestant, Sikh, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders gave a press conference at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Washington D.C. to express concerns about those within the president-elect’s circle.
Rev. Jennifer Butler, head of a progressive religious advocacy group called “Faith in Public Life,” opened the event by condemning the appointments of Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General and Steve Bannon, as White House chief strategist.
‘These unprecedented, radical appointments threaten our very democracy, and degrade our national values. People of color, immigrants, religious minorities, and those of us who stand with them are alarmed. And as people of faith, we will stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters.’
Also speaking was Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block of Bend the Arc, Rev. William Barber, and Khizr Khan, who rose to national attention over the summer when he spoke out at the Democratic National Convention against unconstitutional policies proposed by Donald Trump during his campaign for the presidency.
At the press conference, Khan said:
‘My faith teaches that the Creator never puts His creation in jeopardy without also providing the solution. We have chosen to do good in this time of difficulty…as people of faith.’
— Faith in Public Life (@FaithPublicLife) December 14, 2016
Attendees included a number of prominent liberal faith leaders, many of whom have protested Trump’s policies that would target religious minorities. Many spoke about Trump’s proposal to create a national Muslim registry, or ban those of that faith from entering the United States.
Rabbi Kimelman-Block said:
‘We don’t get to choose the historical moment we live in but we do get to choose how we respond. We were made for this moment. We must resist.’
— Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) December 14, 2016
The group also presented leaders in the House and Senate with a petition signed by 2,500 religious leaders asking Congress to reject the appointments.
— not giving up (@adri_djohnson) December 14, 2016
The petition, in part, addresses Steve Bannon, who steered the conservative website Breitbart News into alt-right waters and:
‘Which has ceaselessly promoted racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic rhetoric that degrades the human dignity of millions of Americans.’
— MomsRising (@MomsRising) December 14, 2016
Trump faces opposition from religious Americans even within his own party, causing many Mormons in Utah to break from Republicans and vote for independent candidate Evan McMullin. Recently, a Republican elector, Christopher Suprun of Texas, told ThinkProgress that he would not be able to vote for Donald Trump, saying that to do so would conflict with his Catholic faith.
The petition states:
‘All of our faith traditions teach us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. After a painful and contentious election, the future of our nation rests in our ability to unite and work collaboratively for the common good of all people. But we cannot coalesce around these ambassadors of hatred, bigotry and intimidation.’
According to Baptist News, the group of faith leaders also objected to the appointment of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for national security adviser, saying that although they respected his military service, Gen. Flynn called Islam “a cancer” and “used social media to stoke fears of Jews and Muslims”:
‘National security experts know that such divisive fear-fueled rhetoric only leads to senseless hate crimes here in America, and needlessly puts at risk our men and women in uniform. … As proud Americans committed to defending the Bill of Rights and freedom of religion, we oppose putting in powerful positions these individuals who have stoked truly dangerous bigotry.’
Featured image via Faith in Public Life Twitter feed.