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." As Sessions told in his speech on Monday - Freedom of religion is indeed our “first freedom”, being the first listed right in our First Amendment. He is obviously disappointed with the fact that the courts also protect human rights, not only the religious liberty. That’s why he said: “We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
"The task force will help the department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt and how we conduct our operations," Sessions said. "That includes making sure that our employees know their duties to accommodate people of faith."
This is not the first time Sessions promoted the idea of federal protections for religious groups. He issued a religious liberty memorandum following President Donald Trump's executive order in May 2017, which outlined how federal administrative agencies and executive departments should interpret federal law to protect religious groups. Those guidelines prohibited the government from punishing anyone who acted “in accordance with one’s religious beliefs”.
"A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom," Sessions said in his speech. "There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated." Mr Sessions also alluded to an Obama-era policy that required employers to include contraceptive coverage in their employee health care plans.
“But in recent years, the cultural climate in this country—and in the West more generally—has become less hospitable to people of faith. Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.
And it’s easy to see why. We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives.”
“Every day across America, they feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate our young people, and care for the sick. They do so not because the government tells them to, but because they want to. They do these things because of their faith,” Sessions said about religious people. And what about all those atheists who were helping with hurricane disaster relief, who are helping homeless people, who are helping people whose lives are endangered in their countries because of atheism, etc.? They don’t help in order to reach the heaven, they are trying to improve one and only life on the earth.
Worst of all: this is just another step along the path that will turn our democracy into a theocracy. That path is being designed by the religious right in this country. Will you allow it?
Photo Credits: Staticflickr