The Washington Examiner reports:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has created a religious liberty task force to “protect and promote religious liberty.” Speaking from the Justice Department in Washington, Sessions said the task force, which he will chair, is to help implementation of the religious liberty memo he signed in October.
That 25-page memo outlines 20 guiding principles that federal agencies can use to protect religious liberty in employment, contracting and programming. The task force will facilitate compliance with the October memo, address new or recurring issues with implication of the memo and facilitate interagency coordination regarding the memo.
Exceprts from Sessions remarks include:
A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated. This election, and much that has flowed from it, gives us a rare opportunity to arrest these trends. Such a reversal will not just be done with electoral victories, but by intellectual victories.
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. (SNIP)
President Trump heard this concern. I believe this unease is one reason that he was elected. In substance, he said he respected people of faith and he promised to protect them in the free exercise of their faith. He declared we would say “Merry Christmas” again.
The Democratic National Committee LGBTQ media director Lucas Acosta issued the following statement:
From supporting the right to refuse service to same-sex couples to banning military service by transgender individuals to removing mentions of LGBTQ issues from the White House website, Attorney General Sessions’ creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force is just the latest assault in this administration’s continued campaign against LGBTQ people and our civil rights.
“By creating this task force, Sessions is establishing a unit dedicated to undermining LGBTQ rights and giving anti-LGBTQ far-right extremists like task force head Jesse Panuccio a taxpayer-funded platform to push their anti-equality agenda. Rather than ensuring every person has equal protections and opportunities, Sessions is shamefully doubling down on bigotry.
“This action is further proof that Republicans continue to push forward an agenda completely out of step with the American people and our values. Democrats will continue to focus on how to improve opportunity for all Americans regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or income.”