Religious Groups Concerned About “Religious Freedom Task Force”

The United States shouldn’t promote any particular religion’s agenda but yet that’s exactly what the Trump administration’s taxpayer-funded “Religious Freedom Task Force” is doing. Attorney general Jeff Sessions announced creation of a "religious liberty task force" whose duty will be to "help the department (of justice) fully implement our religious guidance."

Some religious groups claim that “Religious Freedom Task Force” is “one-sided” and uses religion as a “sword” to deny vulnerable people basic human rights. Actually, Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, said she agreed with some but not all of Sessions’ announcement speech.

Tyler took issue, however, with “the oversimplification of unsettled legal questions involving the free exercise of religion” and “near total omission of any concern for government promotion of religion” in Jeff Session’s speech.

Tyler agreed with Sessions “that we find ourselves in a perilous moment,” adding, “but I fear that what is most in jeopardy is widespread support of religious liberty for all.”

By establishing a “one-sided” task force, Tyler said the Trump administration is “only exacerbating the problem.”

Tyler agreed with Sessions “that we find ourselves in a perilous moment,” adding, “but I fear that what is most in jeopardy is widespread support of religious liberty for all.”

“In aligning the government closely with a narrow viewpoint on religious freedom – which fails to balance concern for protection of the rights of others with the right to exercise one’s religion – the Trump administration is sowing division where there should be unity on our first freedom,” Tyler said.

The Task Force will mostly focus on helping Christians discriminate against non-believers and LGBTQ people, making those divisions even greater. That’s why a group called Muslim Advocates also reacted to the Task Force: “Our country was founded on the belief that no one should suffer discrimination or persecution because of their faith. Yet, from day one, this administration has made a mockery of that bedrock American principle by using religion not as a shield to protect the vulnerable from abuse, but rather as a sword to deny basic rights and dignity to others.

In light of the record of bigotry that has already been amassed by the Trump administration, we have grave concerns about Attorney General Sessions’ newly created ‘religious liberty task force.’  All indications suggest that this is merely just another effort by the federal government to institutionalize discrimination against religious minorities, women, and LGBTQ Americans, so that the hatred of the Trump administration may outlive the presidency.”

Should religion have privileged status in a secular state (such as the United States) to undermine the separation of church and state?

Photo Credits: Staticflickr

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