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Congressional resolutions about Islam

Senate resolutions of 1999 and 2000

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Sponsored link.

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Religious tolerance resolution (1999):

On 1999-JUL-1 Senator Spencer Abraham (MI-R) sponsored a Senate resolution titled "A resolution supporting religious tolerance toward Muslims." (S.RES.133). Representative David Bonior (MI-D) introduced a concurrent resolution to the House on 1999-AUG-5. (H.con.res.174). 

By 1999-OCT-24, the Senate resolution had four cosponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Judiciary. The House version had two cosponsors. It was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, and later to its Subcommittee on the Constitution

Chairperson Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) and committee members gutted and shelved the House resolution in 1999-DEC. According to Raeed Tayeh, columnist for Pioneer Planet:

"...several Jewish and Christian groups have been protesting the passage of this resolution. These groups did much behind-the-scenes lobbying, asking that the resolution be rewritten or removed from the congressional docket altogether." 1,2

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Text of the 1999 House resolution:

Name: "Supporting religious tolerance toward Muslims:"

Whereas the American Muslim community, comprised of approximately 5,000,000 people, is a vital part of our Nation, with more than 1,500 mosques, Islamic schools, and Islamic centers in neighborhoods across the United States;

Whereas Islam is one of the great Abrahamic faiths, whose significant contributions throughout history have advanced the fields of math, science, medicine, law, philosophy, art, and literature;

Whereas the United States is a secular nation, with an unprecedented commitment to religious tolerance and pluralism, 3 where the rights, liberties, and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are guaranteed to all citizens regardless of religious affiliation;

Whereas Muslims have been subjected, simply because of their faith, to acts of discrimination and harassment that all too often have led to hate-inspired violence, as was the case during the rush to judgment in the aftermath of the tragic Oklahoma City bombing;

Whereas discrimination against Muslims intimidates American Muslims and may prevent Muslims from freely expressing their opinions and exercising their religious beliefs as guaranteed by the first amendment to the Constitution;

Whereas American Muslims have regrettably been portrayed in a negative light in some discussions of policy issues such as issues relating to religious persecution abroad or fighting terrorism in the United States;

Whereas stereotypes and anti-Muslim rhetoric have also contributed to a backlash against Muslims in some neighborhoods across the United States; and

Whereas all persons in the United States who espouse and adhere to the values of the founders of our Nation should help in the fight against bias, bigotry, and intolerance in all their forms and from all their sources: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That
  1. Congress condemns anti-Muslim intolerance and discrimination as wholly inconsistent with the American values of religious tolerance and pluralism;
  2. while Congress respects and upholds the right of individuals to free speech, Congress acknowledges that individuals and organizations that foster such intolerance create an atmosphere of hatred and fear that divides the Nation;
  3. Congress resolves to uphold a level of political discourse that does not involve making a scapegoat of an entire religion or drawing political conclusions on the basis of religious doctrine; and
  4. Congress recognizes the contributions of American Muslims, who are followers of one of the three major monotheistic religions of the world and one of the fastest growing faiths in the United States.

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Senate acknowledgment resolution of 2000:

The U.S. Senate passed unanimously their Senate Resolution 133 in late 2000-JUL, recognizing the significant contribution of America's Muslims to the country. The resolution was co-sponsored by two Republican and five Democratic senators. One sponsor, Senator Abraham, noted, "I am very pleased that my colleagues joined me unanimously in: acknowledging that we need to have a more tolerant discourse toward Islam -- one of the three great monotheistic faiths." 4  The resolution states, in part:

"Whereas American Muslims and the Islamic religion have regrettably been portrayed in a negative light in some discussions of policy issues such as issues relating to religious persecution abroad or fighting terrorism in the United States;

"Congress resolves to uphold a level of political discourse that rejects negatively stereotyping Islam."

The Arab American Institute (AAI) has asked the House Judiciary Committee to release its companion version. According to the AAI:

"Due to pressure from what some committee staffers described as "family" and "religious" groups, the Judiciary Committee demanded significant changes in the resolution's language -- changes that would have rendered the measure meaningless.

The family/religious groups appear to be a reference to conservative Christian organizations. The AAI continues:

"Unnamed members of the House Judiciary Committee also objected to the resolution's assertion that there was a rush to judgment based on stereotypes of American Muslims and Islam in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing."

This appears to be a reference to a widespread rumor which circulated through Oklahoma City and some media outlets, that the bombing had some of the characteristics of attacks by Muslim terrorists in the Middle East. Muslim clerics were later not permitted to take part in the memorial service for the persons killed in the bombing. The perpetrators were later traced to a militia group who attacked a federal building as revenge for the loss of life among the Branch Davidians at Waco. 

The house version was shelved by the House Committee on the Judiciary on 1999-NOV, never to see the light of day.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Raeed N. Tayeh, "U.S. Muslims deserve measure of goodwill," Pioneer Planet, 1999-DEC-15, at: http://www.pioneerplanet.com
  2. H. Con. Res. 174, "Supporting religious tolerance toward Muslims." Search  http://thomas.loc.gov/ for Bill Number s.res.133
  3. The term "pluralism" is ambiguous. It is sometimes used to refer to religious diversity. Other times, it refers to the belief that all religions are true.
  4. "Senate passes resolution acknowledging American Muslims," http://usinfo.state.gov/ (offline)
  5. Raeed N. Tayeh, "U.S. Muslims deserve measure of goodwill," Pioneer Planet, 1999-DEC-15, at: http://www.pioneerplanet.com
  6. Irving Hexham, excerpt from: "Concise Dictionary of Religion, Regent College Press, (1999; second edition). See: http://www.acs.ucalgary.ca/~nurelweb/books/ Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

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Site navigation: Home page > World Religions > Islam > Congress resolution > here

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Copyright © 1999 to 2007, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First published on: 1999-DEC-15
Latest update: 2007-OCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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