DRAD to Congress: Don’t Single Out Charities Based on Religious Affiliation

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Update: Victory! Rep. DeSantis declined to offer his amendment. 

September 7, 2017

Re: Oppose DeSantis Amendment #115.

Dear [Representative]:

Defending Rights & Dissent is a national civil liberties organization dedicated to fulfilling the promise of the Bill of Rights for everyone. We are emphatically opposed to Representative DeSantis Amendment No. 115 to HR 3354. If passed, this amendment would cut off all federal government funding to Islamic Relief Worldwide. We urge you to oppose this amendment.

The amendment ostensibly is based on allegations that the Islamic Relief Worldwide has ties to terrorism. However, these allegations are entirely unfounded and, in fact, have been repeatedly disproven. The Islamic Relief Society has been audited over 500 times. The US government has not placed any restrictions or designation on the Islamic Relief Society and its US affiliate is part of the United States Governments’ Combined Federal Campaign.

Approving this amendment would be taking the unprecedented step of singling out an individual non-profit organization for legislative exclusion from participation in programming with US foreign assistance funds when there is no legal basis for the exclusion.

Islamic Relief Worldwide is being singled out for scrutiny, because of its religious affiliation. We are living in a time of heightened prejudice against Muslims. Part of this prejudice includes a belief that Muslim civil society groups, by virtue of their religious affiliation alone, are inherently suspected of ties to terrorism. Such prejudice when legally sanctioned runs contrary to our Constitution’s guarantees of religious freedom, equal protection, and due process.

Endorsing this amendment would be an endorsement of the idea that Muslim civil society are inherently suspect of terrorist ties, even when such ties have repeatedly been disproven. It would also be an endorsement of a character assassination of a reputable relief organization, one which is well-respected and has continuously done outstanding humanitarian service. It is worth noting that at the very time this amendment is being considering, the Islamic Relief Worldwide’s US affiliate is actively providing assistance to victims of hurricane Harvey.

We were founded in 1960 to oppose the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee. As a result, we know far too well the deleterious impact that giving legislative sanction to character assassination, endorsing insinuations not held up by due process, and transforming constitutionally protect affiliations into markers of suspicion, has on our democracy.

We urge you to oppose Amendment #115.


Chip Gibbons
Policy & Legislative Counsel
Defending Rights & Dissent