Dear Representative Biedermann,

In advance of your upcoming Homeland Security forum on “Defending Against Radical Islamic Terrorism in Texas,” you sent a letter to Muslim leaders across the state requesting they complete what you characterize as a “poll” and which recent news reports characterize as a “survey.”

Having read the document in full, I can confirm that it is neither. It is, in fact, a loyalty oath. What gives it away is the letter’s demand that its recipients sign and return a document that includes the phrase “I renounce, repudiate, and oppose.”

You recently swore to another oath: “I…will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and Laws of the United States and of this state.”

Yet your survey is an affront to the Constitutions of both the United States and of our Great State.

Our history shows that there is nothing quite so un-American as loyalty oaths. They question the allegiance of whatever group they target—in this case, Texas Muslims—and they are an affront to the dignity of the individual.

They are misguided, discriminatory, counterproductive, and undermine basic First Amendment freedoms.

They revive the darkness of McCarthyism, and they do precisely nothing to keep anyone safe.

At the same time, your letter includes a declaration by the Muslim Reform Movement, an organization that purports to endorse a practice of Islam based on the values of peace, human rights and secular governance.

That declaration claims to affirm “the right of all people to express and practice their faith, or non-faith, without threat of intimidation.”

Will you commit yourself to defending all Texans’ right to worship as they see fit, including Texas Muslims? In light of your mailing singling out Texas Muslims to sign a loyalty oath, those who elected you to represent them have to seriously wonder.

Your hometown of Fredericksburg was founded by a Prussian Prince. New Braunfels, which you also represent, was founded by a German Prince. Many of those original German settlers even refused to learn English. That’s what has made our state what it is: a true salad bowl of independent people, people who dress differently, live differently, think differently, and pray in all sorts of ways.

Texas is home to Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics and Atheists. And yes, Muslims – in fact, some 422,000 Texans are Muslims, more than any other state in the Union.

And every single one of them is every bit as Texan as you or I.

Sincerely,

Terri Burke
Executive Director
ACLU of Texas

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