In Theory: Weighing suggestions of a Muslim registry

President-elect Donald Trump waves to a crowd gathered at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 6, 2016.

President-elect Donald Trump waves to a crowd gathered at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 6, 2016.

(Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AFP/Getty Images)

While campaigning, President-elect Donald Trump proposed banning all Muslim immigration into the United States.

Trump’s rhetoric has raised the question of whether his administration would implement a Muslim registry, talks of which were further fueled after Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and potential Trump cabinet member, was photographed with documents outlining plans for a “special registration” of immigrants from “high-risk” countries, Sabrina Siddiqui of the Guardian writes.

Reince Priebus, Trump’s incoming chief of staff, has declined to explicitly rule out the possibility of such a registry.

Trump did not specifically advocate for a Muslim registry while on the campaign trail, but when asked if he favors one, “he both declined to rule it out while signaling potential support for the idea,” Siddiqui writes.

Q. A “blanket registration of all Muslims in the U.S. or those seeking to immigrate from other countries” would “not only be unconstitutional, but also impossible to implement,” Siddiqui writes. What do you think of such a registration? What are your thoughts on Trump not having outright supported or rejected a registry?

The exact phrase “common sense” occurs only in the New Living Translation of the Bible, as far as I’ve seen, but many synonymous words such as “prudence,” “discretion” and “wisdom” are used in other popular English translations of Scripture. The biblical Hebrew word for wisdom is defined as skill (as in some trade or in administration), shrewdness and soundness in judgment. According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology wisdom is “keen insight into life and ways of dealing with its problems.” Proverbs 9:10 teaches that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.

Wisdom was the hallmark of Solomon’s success as king of Israel. And this issue of limiting immigration requires much wisdom, or in the vernacular, common sense, on the part of our leaders. We cannot be so naive or “politically correct” as to ignore the fact that the terrorists plaguing the world come from Muslim countries. But we also cannot be so biased as to think that all Muslims are terrorists.

Mr. Trump has entered the world of politics, and politicians are known on occasion to attempt to “sit on both sides of the fence.” To me, that’s what it appears he is doing. A blanket registration of all Muslims contradicts our values as a nation. But screening all immigrants is simple wisdom and these days, a necessity. And if an immigrant is coming from a country known to support terrorism then extra vigilance in screening is just common sense.

Pastor Jon Barta


Perhaps, a fellow member of the clergy, Rev. Martin Niemoller, best sums up how I feel we should view Ms. Siddiqui’s words. Incidentally, Siddiqui is Arabic for friend and from the same root as the Hebrew Tzadiq.

Reverend Niemoller:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Let us never forget, whoever does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it.

Rabbi Mark Sobel
Temple Beth Emet


I am not surprised that Trump has both supported and rejected a Muslim registry in the same sentence, via his spokesperson. I’ve stopped keeping up with the details of our president-elect’s fleeting yet terrifying thoughts. On several occasions recently he has admitted forgetting his own prior statements.

His suggestion to register Muslims is unworthy of us, not to mention unconstitutional. In 1988 the United States government apologized and paid reparations to Japanese Americans who were registered, rounded up and imprisoned during World War II. But to Trump the events of the 1940s might as well be the Pleistocene, or fake news someone posted or tweeted.

His statements on Muslims are but one example of a larger problem. Our next president has no consistent policy views nor knowledge, however shallow, of key issues. And nothing suggests he has any intention of studying up.

Roberta Medford


From what I understand, the registry idea is directed at immigration applicants and not American citizens. Except for the self-radicalization of some citizen Muslims (influenced by foreign parties) it’s not primarily native-born American-Muslims about which most people worry. They probably carry some of the same discomfort as every American at the prospect of Third World, unenlightened immigrants pouring over our borders without any safeguards. The fact that we are most harried by Muslims is the only reason why Muslims are receiving focus. Our country has registries of all types: gun registry, criminal registry, medical-cannabis registry, but now that we are proposing an immigrant registry of an inordinately dangerous demographic, we have problems with that?

There are no provisions in the U.S. Constitution for disparate aliens raised in the Middle East, Asia or Africa. We owe them nothing, and they deserve nothing from us. If they come to our doorsteps seeking membership in the American nation, then they need to pass muster. We need to find out who they are, what danger they might pose, and whether or not we want them roaming about our public spaces. This isn’t about fiat disdain for people of an unpopular religion, it’s about wise filtration of foreign people having a particular philosophy that believes America to be the Great Satan, and think us therefore needful of destruction before the eyes of Allah. If it takes a moratorium on such a group’s admission through our borders, then do that with the object of ensuring American safety and American values. Why would you let a fox into a hen house or a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing entrée into the fold? If you are smart, you don’t lobby for the fox and the wolf and pine for their kind reception. Since they sneak in with the rest, we have to vet the lot.

If Americans were trying to get into other countries, do you think we could just walk in and demand citizenship? Who does that? Would you let any strange person who knocks on your front door come in and immediately live with your family? Not unless you want to wake up dead tomorrow! Let’s use some common sense, and if we cannot verify someone’s background, just say “no.” Who doesn’t have some history or record of their existence? Nobody is going to admit that they’ve been making bombs for Al Qaeda for the past several years, but they might be able to prove they had a decent job, no criminal record, and were good members of their communities. What’s the rush to fill our country with foreigners anyway? Do we have a death wish? Do we hate our own culture that much? Before opening the floodgates, should we not “first sit down and calculate the cost” (Luke 14:28)?

Rev. Bryan A. Griem


The LDS church expressed its concern about a religion-based test for entry into the U.S. when the Trump campaign first mentioned it a year ago. Since then, leaders have spoken out frequently about the importance of defending religious freedom for all, so it is reasonable to assume that they would view a Muslim registry as unwise.

As the Guardian article points out, it is difficult to tell whether the president-elect is actually considering a registry, or whether it would include citizens as well as refugees and others seeking to immigrate. In either case, it would almost certainly face significant legal hurdles.

The church’s concern stems in part from Mormons’ experience with religious persecution in the mid-19th century. Church members were forced to leave Missouri in 1838 after its governor issued an executive order threatening extermination. They likewise were forced to leave Illinois, and begin their trek to Utah, following the death of Joseph Smith. During those migrations, many church members lost everything they had in the way of material possessions. Some of them died. So the church’s history tends to make its members sympathetic both to religious minorities and to the refugees of today.

“Their story is our story,” Elder Patrick Kearon, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, said earlier this year in a talk about the refugee crisis. “… This moment does not define them, but our response will help define us.”

Knowing the church’s history may make it easier to understand why U.S. Mormons, who tend to favor a robust approach to national security, are sensitive to measures that single people out on the basis of religion. But history isn’t the only guide. Basic Christian precepts require us to treat others with fairness and charity, and we are warned throughout scripture about the peril of prejudging others. This also argues against any religious litmus test.

Michael White
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
La Crescenta