Justice Department Creates 'Religious Liberty Task Force'

Jeff Sessions announced the move Monday
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2018 12:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – Last year, President Trump signed an executive order on religious freedom, and now the Department of Justice is creating a "religious liberty task force" to implement the guidance that was issued as a result of that order. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the task force Monday during the DoJ's religious liberty summit, the Hill reports. Among other things, the guidance, issued in October, "staked out religious protections for hiring decisions that could threaten those whose sexual orientation conflicts with employers' faith," USA Today reported at the time, and the Human Rights Campaign responded to the task force news with concern that it will lead to anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Sessions, however, said that many Americans and others in the West feel their religious freedom is under attack.

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"We’ve seen nuns ordered to buy contraceptives," he said. "We’ve seen US senators ask judicial and executive branch nominees about dogma, even though the Constitution explicitly forbids a religious test for public office." He also cited the case of a baker who refused to make a same-sex wedding cake. Sessions said the Constitution's protections for free exercise of religion mean that "we have not only the freedom to worship—but the right to exercise our faith," by taking action or abstaining from action. The task force will ensure the government protects those freedoms and that the DoJ employees "know their duties to accommodate people of faith," per Bustle. The ACLU tweeted, "Reminder: Religious freedom protects our right to our beliefs, not a right to harm others." (Read more religious freedom stories.)

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