Did President Donald Trump ban an "entire religion" from entering the United States? No, that's not true: While during the 2016 presidential campaign candidate Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," his series of executive orders as president limited entry only for people from a short list of Muslim-majority countries and not to visitors of a specific religion.
The misleading claim has been made in a widely-shared meme, including in a post (archived here) published on May 3, 2019. It opened with a quote from Vice President Michael Pence about protecting religious freedom, followed by a comment that Trump banned an "entire religion":
President Trump has taken steps to ensure that the Federal Government will never, ever penalize anyone for their religious beliefs ever again.Well, you know, except for that one time when he banned an ENTIRE RELIGION from entering the country.
The meme looked like this on social media:
Vice President Pence's quote was delivered in his National Day of Prayer speech on May 2, 2019. You can read the full speech here.
From early in this administration, President Trump has taken steps to ensure that the federal government will never, ever penalize anyone for their religious beliefs ever again.
The comment that followed claiming that Trump had "banned an ENTIRE RELIGION" is rooted in Trump's real campaign call for a ban on an entire religion -- Islam -- soon after the San Bernardino terror attacks by two Muslims." "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," Trump said. Watch it here:
Trump renewed his call for a Muslim ban months later after the Orlando, Florida, nightclub attack by a Muslim.
What has happened in Orlando is just the beginning. Our leadership is weak and ineffective. I called it and asked for the ban. Must be tough-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
A week after Trump took office, he signed an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations and the entry of Syrian refugees. While it did not specify banning Muslims, federal judges upheld legal challenges that it violated constitutional religious liberties. Trump's campaign calls for a Muslim ban were cited as support for the decision to prevent implementation.
It took two more executive orders before Trump could get a court to allow a travel ban. Opponents argued each time that the orders equaled a ban based on religion, with the Trump lawyers contending the orders were based national security concerns. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the third version, which restricted entry of nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela, in a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court's majority opinion that the order was "facially neutral toward religion." Read the full opinion here.
The proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices. The text says nothing about religion.
While Trump made a campaign promise to ban an "entire religion," he never pursued it as president. While his executive orders prevented some Muslims from entering the United States, he never "banned an entire religion." This meme is false.
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