Jul 30, 2018

The U.S. Justice Department hosted a so-called “Religious Liberty Summit” today, an event Americans United for Separation of Church and State blasted as one-sided and inaccurate.

“Today’s event by the Justice Department offends the true meaning of religious freedom,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United. “The event was clearly designed to advance the Trump administration’s twisted and dangerous view of religious freedom, one that uses religion to discriminate and harm others. This event exposed the administration’s real agenda: to preserve the power of Christian fundamentalists.”

During the event, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” that will work to implement the guidance he unveiled last year that serves as a blueprint for using religion to discriminate, especially against women and LGBTQ people.

Laser noted that the summit was one-sided and stacked with speakers such as the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, which cited religion to justify refusing to make a cake for a same-sex couple, and a leader in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who advocated for taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care providers to be able to use religion to justify discrimination.

The speakers complained about the state of religious freedom in America today, but nothing was heard from the people who have been denied services or health care because of someone else’s religion.

Americans United noted that the Trump administration has consistently misused religious freedom, interpreting that principle to authorize discrimination in doctor’s offices and hospitals, workplaces, businesses where people shop and in the government-funded services many Americans rely on. 

“Far from seeking to safeguard religious freedom, Trump, Sessions and their allies are hard at work trying to destroy that precious right by favoring the religious views of a select few at the expense of religious freedom for all Americans,” said Laser. “They seek religious freedom for some, not for all.”

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

(Photo credit: Screenshot of DOJ Religious Liberty Summit from C-SPAN)