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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Anti-Muslim Myth Gets A New Twist

Quick Take

Congress didn’t “quietly” repeal a law barring Muslims from serving in public office, as social media posts allege. No such law existed in the first place.

Full Story

Popular posts on Facebook put a new twist on the long-circulating falsehood that Muslims are banned from holding public office.

Late last year, we debunked the erroneous and viral claim that the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act bans Muslims from holding public office in the United States.” And before that, we made clear that there was no Supreme Court ruling upholding a law that “disallowed Muslims from participating in American government,” despite what a hoax story said. 

Now, posts circulating on Facebook are claiming that the 1952 law was actually “QUIETLY repealed” in 1990 — and that’s “why Muslims can run for office.”

That’s also not true.

The McCarran-Walter Act, formally known as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952largely codified the country’s immigration policies, as we’ve written before. It upheld aspects such as the national-origins quota system established in 1924, but it also officially ended the exclusion of Asian immigrants. 

No part of that law, or any law, has barred Muslims from serving in public office.

Such a policy would defy the U.S. Constitution. Article VI stipulates that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” It would also run counter to the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on the social media network.


Amendment I, U.S. Constitution. Constitution Center. Accessed 14 Feb 2019.

Article VI, U.S. Constitution. Constitution Center. Accessed 14 Feb 2019.

Fichera, Angelo. “Viral Posts Misinform on McCarran-Walter Act.” FactCheck.org. 29 Nov 2018.

Hale Spencer, Saranac. “Muslims Aren’t Banned From Government.” FactCheck.org. 3 Jan 2018.

Immigration and Nationality Act. Pub. L. 82 – 414. 66 Stat 163-282. 27 Jun 1952. 

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The Law Never Existed
Congress in 1990 "QUIETLY repealed" 1952 law "forbidding" Muslims from holding office
Wednesday, February 13, 2019