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Anna Núñez, ACLU of Texas, (713) 325-7010, media@aclutx.org

January 26, 2017

HOUSTON —The ACLU of Texas responded today to a letter sent by state Rep. Kyle Biedermann, R-Fredericksburg, to Muslim leaders in Texas demanding they “renounce, repudiate, and oppose” radical interpretations of Islam with an open letter of its own. In a full-page ad in the San Antonio Express-News, the ACLU of Texas condemned Rep. Biedermann’s Muslim loyalty oath as an affront to the First Amendment principles of free speech, free exercise of religion and free association.

The following may be attributed to Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas:

“We don’t have to look any further than the grim history of the McCarthy era to appreciate the danger loyalty oaths pose to our Constitution. Such oaths inhibit the freedom of speech and association, single out vulnerable communities and provide no national security benefit. They are designed strictly to intimidate, but no Texan of any faith should be afraid to worship whom and how she pleases.”

Rep. Biedermann sent his letter in advance of his upcoming Homeland Security Forum on “Defending Against Radical Islamic Terrorism in Texas” In addition to its demand that Texas Muslims sign his loyalty oath, Rep. Biedermann’s letter includes an attachment that claims to embrace values of human rights, social justice and secular governance.

The following may be attributed to Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas:

“Rep. Biedermann’s loyalty oath is an insult to the First Amendment, but if he wants to champion women’s rights, minority rights, LGBT rights and secular governance — all of which are celebrated in his letter — I’m all for it, and I expect that to be reflected in his voting record this session. Were he to follow through and oppose SB 6, ‘religious refusal’ bills and the diversion of taxpayer money to religious education, he’d find a stout ally in the ACLU.”

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