On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration will be creating a “religious liberty task force.”
Freedom of religion has been a core American principle from the very beginning of our country — indeed, it is our ‘first freedom. President Trump promised that he would make preserving and protecting our religious liberty the first priority of his administration. The Department of Justice is committed to assisting with that effort.
The “religious liberty task force” will be chaired by Sessions himself. He claimed the new task force will:
help the department fully implement the 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 went on to say that the cultural climate in the country has become inhospitable to people of faith in the past years. He said, “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.”
In case you need a recap, Phillips was the baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a same sex-wedding ceremony due to his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court sided with Phillips on the grounds that to deny the couple a cake was to exercise his First Amendment freedom. Which is the real reason behind the “religious liberty task force” to protect and uphold decisions that directly attack the LGBTQ community and probably women’s rights such as abortion. In a case that directly followed the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court also upheld the right of anti-abortion crisis centers to masquerade as women’s health centers despite the fact that they are religious organizations with an anti-abortion agenda.
Ultimately, Sessions’ “religious liberty task force” is an attempt to increase discrimination across the country and hinder the rights of the LGBTQ community and women. Sessions’ announcement follows his religious liberty memo. The memo declared that various Federal agencies including the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Health of Human Services should operate to preserve religious liberty even if it means they have to conflict with anti-discrimination laws. Sessions’ announcement also comes after Trump signed an executive order in May which created a “faith initiative” to address “religious liberty” issues in federal agencies.