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Spokane City Council Says 'No' to Religious Registry

Spokane City Council
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart

Spokane’s City Council passed an emergency ordinance Monday night that prohibits religious registries of any kind in Washington’s second largest city.

According to the ordinance, no person or department in the City of Spokane can create a registry or any other kind of list “based on religious affiliation, belief, or conduct…”

Council President Ben Stuckart said the language comes from a larger human rights law council members have been working on for months. Even though there’s been no order from the White House to create a federal religious registry, Stuckart asked the council to consider the law as an emergency ordinance in light of the Trump administration’s new immigration ban.

“I think we are beyond words now and condemnation,” Stuckart said. “I think we need to figure out what laws do we need to put in place as a municipality that protect our citizens and send a clear signal that we are on their side.”

The non-profit refugee resettlement agency World Relief Spokane helps at least 1,000 immigrants in the city annually. The Spokane Islamic Center serves 1,100 Muslims in the area.

It was standing room only in council chambers. Stuckart said it’s only the second time he has seen as many people attend the weekly meeting. The council voted unanimously.

Stuckart is planning a run for Congress in 2018 against longtime Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Among the hundreds who came to offer their public testimony on the new law, fewer than five voiced their opposition.

A few of them accused Stuckart of using the ordinance as a publicity stunt.

“You know, I passed a non-biased policing ordinance in 2014, years before my Congressional run and that was specifically to protect our immigrant community, so I think it’s pretty ludicrous,” he said. “They couldn’t defend a Muslim registry, so instead they wanted to attack me personally.”