Screengrab from https://youtu.be/cYhOIWsuing
Earlier today, Attorney General Sessions was briefly reanimated to give a speech at the Department of Justice’s Religious Liberty Summit:
Freedom of religion is indeed our “first freedom”—being the first listed right of our First Amendment.
This has been a core American principle from the beginning.
It is one of the reasons that this country was settled in the first place.
As an aside, if we are going to start creating Justice task forces to defend the Bill of Rights in numerical sequence, how about devoting some more time the Second and kicking the Fourteenth or whatever down the street a bit?
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.
We’ve seen U.S. Senators ask judicial and executive branch nominees about dogma—even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office. We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips [note: Phillips is the baker in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case].
Today I am announcing our next step: the Religious Liberty Task Force, to be co-chaired by the Associate Attorney General and the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy—Jesse and Beth.
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. That includes making sure that our employees know their duties to accommodate people of faith.
As the people in this room know, you have to practice what you preach. We are also going to remain in contact with religious groups across America to ensure that their rights are being protected. We have been holding listening sessions and we will continue to host them in the coming weeks.
This administration is animated by that same American view that has led us for 242 years: that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith in the public square.
This approach has served this country well. We are perhaps the most religiously developed nation in the world and can take pride in respecting all people as they fully exercise their faiths.
And then he introduced the next speaker:
Now I have the pleasure of introducing Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, someone who is an expert on these matters.
Kurtz is chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee for Religious Liberty and has been dead center in the resistance to homosexual marriage, forcing celibate nuns to have insurance that covers birth control, and the vicious discrimination against faith-based adoption, foster care, and health care services.
Heads exploded like over-ripe zits on…well, I’ll just stop my description here:
Sadly it is no exaggeration, no hyperbole, to say that Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared a holy war on LGBT people, LGBT equality, and LGBT rights on Monday.
He declared war pretty much on anything that could be perceived to trespass on the ‘religious freedom’ or ‘religious liberty’ of Christians – which is a loosely defined enough to be construed as trespassing on pretty much anything.
Sessions said this was because there was a “dangerous movement” to erode the Christian right to worship.
There isn’t of course; it’s an invented bogeyman for a ravenously-pursued ideological crusade. Women, religious minorities, LGBT people: prepare to fight for your bodies, your rights to worship, your wedding cakes.
The "Religious Liberty Task Force" is a cynical and cruel attempt to enable discrimination against LGBTQ people. That's all this is. It has nothing to do with "religious liberty". It's about controlling the bedrooms and bodies of other people. It is opposite of freedom + faith.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) July 30, 2018
The guy who chanted “Lock her up” with high school students and instructed the DoJ to use the words “illegal aliens” last week, this week is forming a “religious liberty task force” in a country which celebrates separation of church and state! https://t.co/EjM0wgUU1R
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) July 30, 2018
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) July 30, 2018
This is all nonsense. The morality and Judeo-Christian ethic train left the station sometime before 1968 and it probably ain’t coming back. Indeed, both Lawrence vs. Texas and Obergefell vs. Hodges are predicated on the idea that the government can’t enforce laws passed with the purpose of setting a moral standard. I don’t see how laws against polygamy, prostitution, public nudity, or public copulation can survive the legal tests imposed in those two decisions. All we people of faith are fighting for is to be allowed to practice our faith day-in and day-out (hence freedom of religion) rather than being forced to limit its exercise to a particular building for a few hours a week (this was Obama’s Freedom of Worship construction).
To the extent that the Justice Department will actually start treating active hostility to religion as an issue, this is a good thing. It is not Armageddon for atheists and sexual deviants but it is a great fundraising device.