On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the launch of a new “religious liberty task force” in the Department of Justice.
“The task force will help the department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuing 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 told the press.
As noted by The Hill, the religious liberty guidance, which is central to the new task force, is rooted in President Donald Trump’s executive order from last year “directing agencies to respect and protect religious liberty and political speech.”
The task force will be co-chaired by Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, said Sessions, as well as the assistant attorney general for the department’s Office of Legal Policy, Beth Williams.
During his remarks, Sessions pointed out recent examples of religious Americans being targeted. “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,” said the AG, referencing the Christian baker from Colorado who was sued for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony. Phillips’ case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where religious liberty won out.
“In short, we have not only the freedom to worship, but the right to exercise our faith. The Constitution’s protections don’t end at the parish parking lot nor can our freedoms be confined to our basements,” added Sessions.
“Religious Americans are no longer an afterthought,” he declared.