Mainstream Conservatives Broaden Calls for a Better Conversation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Additional conservative leaders are speaking out against divisive rhetoric, reinforcing the narrative that America is better when we address our fears while recommitting to American values.

Criticism of Donald Trump’s comments knows no political boundaries. Those speaking out include multiple Republicans in Congress, including Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the committee’s deputy chairman in charge of helping reelect embattled GOP incumbents.

“This is not what we’re about as a party, and this is not what we’re about as a country, and we cannot yield to this,” Walden said. Stivers said that if Trump is the nominee, “It would be devastating to our attempts to grow our majority and would cost us seats. There are people that couldn’t win if he was our nominee.”

Tom Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary under President George W. Bush, has spoken out. So has Republican National Committee member Henry Barbour of Mississippi. In Washington, State Sen. Joe Fain (R) wrote an op-ed in the Seattle Times. These leaders join House Speaker Paul Ryan, former Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican Party leaders in early primary states.

Conservative faith, law enforcement and business leaders are pushing back as well.

“As a lawyer and as state attorney general, I swore an oath to the U.S. Constitution,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. “Monday’s outlandish rhetoric that calls for barring people based solely on their religion is itself protected under our Constitution as free speech, but such rhetoric appeals to the worst impulses of fear and anger, and calling for a religious test makes a mockery of the serious policy discussion our nation should have. Those of us who wish to see the Constitution preserved, protected and defended now repudiate such rhetoric.”

“We welcome Muslims with the unconditional love of Jesus Christ,” said Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief. “Throughout our history, in moments of crisis, we have always found a way to choose courage over fear. We face that moment now. Love must triumph.”

“Evangelicals believe that God loves Muslims of every nationality and sent his son Jesus to live and die for them, as well as for us,” said Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations for the National Association of Evangelicals. “We should welcome immigrants and refugees as our neighbors and show them the same love that Jesus taught and modeled.”

“Banning any group based on religion is un-American,” said conservative columnist Linda Chavez. “We are a nation founded by people fleeing religious persecution. Donald Trump stokes fear and hate in his monomaniacal quest for attention and power. He is unfit to be president and the Republican Party should treat him as they did another hate monger, David Duke, by breaking all ties and formally disassociating themselves from him.”

“The solution to the crisis of violence, economic disparity, hopelessness for displaced people around the world is to offer safety, economic opportunity and hope,” said Shirley V. Hoogstra, President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. “The good and decent people of the United States who have always stood for religious freedom can both address the security concerns and welcome the Muslim refugee. America is not a country that lives in fear, although fear-inducing events happen in horrendous ways; but Americans value a commitment of courage to do the right thing, fairness in the face of complex conundrums, and a truth telling — speaking out against blatant discrimination and sweeping stereotyping.”

“As American Christians committed to ‘being light’ in a world darkened by sin, terrorism and fear, we must affirm our commitment to religious liberty as the proverbial firewall against totalitarianism,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “For that matter, while our government must protect our citizenry from individuals committed to terror, death and destruction, we cannot and must not embrace policies that incorporate a religious litmus test for those legally responding to the compassionate invitation written on the Statue of Liberty.”

“The response from Speaker Ryan and many of his Republican colleagues in Congress is reassuring. We need more GOP leaders and members to follow suit,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund. “Equally powerful are the statements from conservative-leaning leaders outside politics. Across the spectrum, more and more Americans are realizing that we must address our fears in a way that reinforces rather than threatens American values.”


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