Naturalized Selection: DHS Edits Citizen Test

Barb Wire

If it’s a citizenship test, then the United States failed.

That’s what Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) is telling new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. As part of the naturalization exam that prospective immigrants take, it seems the government has made a few edits to the First Amendment — namely that it no longer protects the freedom of religion — but “freedom of worship,” a far less expansive interpretation than the one the Founders intended.

In a letter Senator Lankford sent to Johnson, the Oklahoma conservative calls on DHS to correct the error. “The freedom of religion is much more than just the freedom of worship,” he argues.

“Worship confines you to a location. Freedom of religion is the right to exercise your religious beliefs — it is the ability for Americans to live out their faith or to choose to have no faith at all.”

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According to the Daily Signal, the change was made seven years ago when the Office of Citizenship was “advised that the word ‘worship’ was more inclusive than the word ‘religion.’ ”

Sound familiar? It should. The Obama administration has effectively done a find/replace in almost every speech the President has given on the subject, intentionally diminishing the liberty Americans have. In so doing, he’s helped pave the way for the flood of persecution now hammering Christian businesses, charities, service members, athletes, celebrities, teachers and others hurt by this narrow understanding of our first freedom. The government’s narrow “freedom of worship” would have us pack up our Christian symbols, our biblical beliefs, and our free speech, and stash them in the church, where they hope to quarantine them. “Our Constitution is clear — Americans have the freedom of religion. The naturalization test and its corresponding materials must be equally clear…[S]aying that ‘freedom of worship’ is more inclusive than ‘freedom of religion’ flies in the face of a pillar upon which our entire nation was founded.”

Ironically, the freedom of religion is precisely why so many people want to become U.S. citizens, as they flee countries that punish the expressions of their beliefs. America should embrace the proud tradition of religious expression — not suppress it. Let’s hope that more leaders take Senator Lankford’s cue to fight for exactly that.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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