A GOP member of the the Congressional Prayer Caucus —
incensed about language on a U.S. citizenship test that he says waters down wording about freedom of religion —
is demanding a change in the text.
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Monday asking that "freedom to worship" be changed to "freedom of religion" on the naturalization exam, the Daily Signal reports.
"The freedom of religion is much more than just the freedom of worship," Lankford argues in his letter. "Worship confines you to a location. Freedom of religion is the right to exercise your religious beliefs —
it is the ability for Americans to live out their faith or to choose to have no faith at all."
Lankford, co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, notes "the answer choice 'freedom of worship' has been used since 2008, when [the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] was advised that the word 'worship' was more inclusive than the word 'religion'," the Daily Signal reports.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said the "freedom of worship" text was adopted Oct. 1, 2008, following a redesign, the Daily Signal reports.
"During the redesign of the naturalization test, [the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services] consulted several scholars and experts in the fields of American history and political science to ensure civics items and answers developed for the redesigned test were accurate," the spokeswoman said.
"[The Office of Citizenship] was advised that the word 'worship' was more inclusive than the word 'religion'."
The conservative Heritage Foundation slammed the switch.
"This incorrect view of religious liberty argues that faith should remain a private affair — relegated to personal activities or weekend worship services," Sarah Torre of the Heritage Foundation told the Daily Signal in April.
"Step outside the four walls of a home or house of worship and robust protection of religious freedom ends."
In his letter, Lankford noted, "Our Constitution is clear —
Americans have the freedom of religion. The naturalization test and its corresponding materials must be equally as clear."
"Not only is 'freedom of worship' inconsistent with the text of the amendment proposed 226 years ago today, [but also] saying that 'freedom of worship' is more inclusive than 'freedom of religion' flies in the face of a pillar upon which our entire nation was founded," Lankford added, the Daily Signal reports.
Lankford wants the naturalization test and its corresponding materials to be "immediately" changed "to correctly show that Americans have the right to the free exercise of religion."
Passing the naturalization test is a requirement to becoming a citizen.
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