By Jeremy Dys, First Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel
Attorney General Sessions recently announced the formation of a special Department of Justice Task Force with these words: “Freedom of religion has been a core American principle from the very beginning of our country—indeed, it is our ‘first freedom.’”
His announcement of a Religious Liberty Task Force to “institutionalize” the process of prioritizing the protection of religious liberty by the Department of Justice demonstrates, once again, the Trump administration’s commitment to protecting religious liberty for all Americans.
And it’s needed. Those, like me, who attended the DOJ’s summit heard from a cross-section of America’s religious community. One Jewish rabbi spoke of years of discrimination by a city in Florida intent on keeping their small synagogue from worshiping in their town. A Sikh told us stories of the bullying and abuse his faith community faces throughout the country. One Muslim attorney reminded us of the very real Islamaphobia her community faces on a daily basis. Catholics, Protestants, and others spoke of similar concerns ranging from religious land use to matters of conscience.
Every American is entitled to religious liberty, but not every government official keeps that promise. As with the Executive Order on Religious Liberty and the subsequent guidelines issued by the Attorney General to the executive departments, this task force is one more welcome step this president and his attorney general have taken to strengthen our national commitment to religious liberty.