Guidance issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice this morning that purports to protect religious freedom is actually a license to discriminate, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“This is as serious as it gets. As a result of the Trump administration guidance, millions of Americans could be relegated to second-class citizenship,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Anyone who cares about civil rights, fairness and equality has to pay attention right now. Treating one faith or one group of people as second-class citizens threatens the religious freedom that protects us all.”
Continued Lynn, “Religious freedom doesn’t give anyone the right to use religion as an excuse to harm others. But today the Trump administration is giving the Religious Right exactly what it wants. The guidance is a roadmap for how to discriminate against most anyone, including women, LGBTQ people and religious minorities.”
Americans United criticized the guidance for insisting that religious organizations have a right to take taxpayer money and discriminate against employees and the people they serve. It could give federal government workers the right to use their religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate and deny services to other Americans.
The guidance will seriously undermine protections against discrimination and negatively affect the LGBTQ community, Americans United says.
Today, the Trump administration also issued regulations allowing employers and universities to use religion as a reason to deny women employees and students health insurance coverage for birth control.
Lynn said Americans United will use all available channels to oppose these efforts to use religion as an excuse to discriminate and harm others.
Americans United 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.