E.W. Jackson, a conservative pastor who claims he is not Islamaphobic, expressed his horror that Democratic legislators are hoping to reverse a ban prohibiting headwear from being worn on the House floor in his radio show. For people who wear headwear for religious reasons, this rule creates an obvious problem. But as The Hill first reported, Jackson expressed his concerns on his radio program and, well, they’re pretty Islamaphobic.
“The floor of Congress is now going to look like an Islamic republic,” Jackson said. “We are a Judeo-Christian country. We are a nation rooted and grounded in Christianity and that’s that.”
Representative-elect Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women to enter Congress, has become the face of the movement to have this rule reversed. So it’ s no surprise she responded to Jackson’s comments.
She tweeted out:
Well sir, the floor of Congress is going to look like America…
And you’re gonna have to just deal 😂 https://t.co/mHQzj34ZTn
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 7, 2018
“It’s very simple. Just go live somewhere else,” Jackson continued in his radio show. “Don’t try to change our country into some sort of Islamic republic or try to base our country on Sharia law.”
As Bustle points out, the origins of the ban (which includes the phrase: “every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House”) don’t seem to have much to do with religion, to begin with.
In fact, it seems that lawmakers were more concerned with men’s hats than someone’s religious headwear. But regardless to what lawmakers were thinking at the time, our current representatives should never be in a position where they have to choose between wearing garb that aligns with their religious beliefs and appearing on the House floor.
Beyond just the individual lawmaker’s comfort, seeing religious diversity represented in our government is also significant. Omar, who defeated Republican Jennifer Zielinski in November, is being celebrated for a lot of important reasons. She’ s not only the first woman of color to represent Minnesota in Congress but she’ s also the first Somali-American woman elected to a governing body here in the United States. Alongside Rashida Tlaib, she is the first Muslim woman serving in Congress.
“Now, don’t get me wrong,” Jackson said. “I believe in the freedom of religion, I believe in the First Amendment, but I’ll tell you what, I’m not voting for a Muslim to serve in any office. Me, personally, I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. Period. I’m not doing it.”
And Jackson? He lost a Republican primary in May, where he attempted to represent Virginia in the Senate.