Written by Don Byrd
Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants you to know that the Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of laws protecting religious liberty. Last month, Sessions announced a new initiative to bring awareness to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Today, the Justice Department held a Religious Liberty Summit during which Sessions announced the creation of a new Religious Liberty Task Force.
The impetus for this move, he explained, is that “in recent years, the cultural climate in this country… has become less hospitable to people of faith. Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.” So, what will the new task force do? Here is an excerpt from Sessions’ remarks explaining his plans:
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.
…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.
The “guidance” mentioned in the speech refers to a memo issued by the Justice Department last year, interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law. You can read his entire remarks here. A transcript of the Religious Liberty Summit is here.
For coverage of the summit and Sessions’ announcement, see CNN’s report.