February 27, 2017 From the undersigned members of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion:
As scholars who are committed to studying and understanding texts, religious groups and faith commitments, which take many forms, it seems worthy and right to respond to recent actions, which have such important implications for religion and the study of religion. We believe it is crucial to be on record stating our concern and opposition to actions taken recently by executive orders from the office of the president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump. We express our concern and urge membership of the NABPR to consider the following statements offered by the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Biblical Literature. These statements demonstrate the seriousness of the recent restrictions and exclusion of people from visiting, living or traveling in the U.S. based on their religious commitments.
As professors of religion we recognize, acknowledge and uphold the benefits of the longstanding Baptist commitment to religious freedom and toleration of other faith groups. Our religious freedom depends on the religious freedom of all individuals of faith groups.
Mikeal C. Parsons
Philip E. Thompson
R. Scott Nash
Adam D.J. Brett
AAR Board Statement on U.S. Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”
Statement Issued by the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion on January 30, 2017
President Trump’s recent executive order limiting and banning Muslim immigration to the United States from seven countries strikes at the heart of the mission and values of the American Academy of Religion, a learned society of some 8,500 members.
Our organization is committed to excellence in the academic study of religion and to making our scholarship freely available in order to foster the larger public understanding of religion.
The ban impedes that mission. Faculty members, students, and independent scholars who study religion depend on the freedom of travel to pursue their work. Already we have received reports of scholars who have been prevented from returning home to the United States from research trips abroad. The ban will also impede international students who hope to study in the United States and to American students who plan to study abroad.
At a more fundamental level, the ban conflicts with our values. We hold dear diversity, mutual respect, inclusion, and free inquiry, all of which the immigration ban jeopardizes. The ban erodes our hope that these values will serve as the foundation for all governmental decisions regarding our members as well as our colleagues around the globe.
Finally, the ban poisons the public’s understanding of Islam in particular and religion in general. It blatantly and explicitly discriminates against Islam and Muslims, and appears to provide special treatment of Christianity. It violates our national commitment to welcome persons of all religions.
With learned societies, colleges and universities, and educational leaders across the nation, we call on the President and Congress to retract the Muslim immigration ban and to denounce religious intolerance in all its forms.
Statement on the 27 January 2017 U.S. Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”
The Society of Biblical Literature’s mission is to foster biblical scholarship in accordance with our core values, which include scholarly integrity, critical inquiry, respect for diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance. This mission of fostering biblical scholarship rests on the firm belief that the study of sacred texts and traditions involves unhindered intellectual exchange among scholars. Such open, scholarly exchange serves the common good by contributing to a broad public understanding of religious texts, traditions, and practices in the modern world. It is for these reasons, for example, that SBL does not endorse academic boycotts.
In 2012, SBL received a grant to explore the establishment of an international and independent network of scholars of the Qur’an. That grant led to the formation of the International Qur’anic Studies Association (IQSA) in 2014, now an independent affiliate of the SBL and an invaluable partner in the study of sacred texts. As a learned society, IQSA, like SBL, seeks to promote peace through understanding. We thereby stand with our colleagues in Qur’anic and Islamic studies to protest the ban on immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries.
Moreover, the ban encourages discrimination and promotes misleading and sometimes dangerous caricatures of religious people, practices, and texts. It also places obstacles to the travel of Muslim scholars in and out of the United States, and threatens the free exchange of ideas among the Society and partnering and affiliating organizations that advance learning and help make peace and understanding possible. Thus, the Society strongly opposes the ban and its implementation.