First Liberty Cites Mikey Weinstein after Creation of Religious Liberty Task Force

Monday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force that will attempt to proactively protect the religious liberty of American citizens. During the announcement, AG Sessions said [emphasis added]:

A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated..

We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs…

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.

It’s an outstanding thing to hear our government say — to value religious liberty and desire to protect it, consistent with the foundational documents of our country. This is in stark contrast to the cultural norm of trying to stigmatize and attack religion and liberty — or at least permit such hostility, as some government officials have arguably done.

Important for perspective was the following comment, which many who seek to have the government restrict religion seem to forget [emphasis added]:

[The Founders] clearly recognized that an individual’s relationship to God is a natural right and precedes the existence of the state, and is not subject to state control.

The government did not create nor grant religious liberty.  It cannot take it away.

In essence, the task force is intended to scope not just how the DoJ litigates, but also what it litigates — including proactively initiating cases to protect religious liberty.

Finally, it was interesting to see Jeremy Dys, First Liberty deputy general counsel, indicate he thought the DoJ’s move would ultimately influence the whole of government — including the US military:

The new task force, Dys said, would institutionalize the government’s commitment to religious liberty as well as provide a more focused path for combatting religious discrimination within federal agencies like the Department of Defense.

He specifically pointed to the controversy surrounding placing Bibles on a table respecting prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.

That would be the actions of the US Air Force in response to a “request” by one Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, which led to Col Stacy Huser happily removing a Bible and replacing it with a book of blank pages.

And there is little doubt Mikey Weinstein is party to those who would “erod[e] our great tradition of religious freedom” and who “must be confronted and defeated.”

Dys indicated the task force could go to other government agencies and help them understand the proper application of the law — when, for example, trying to decide whether to kowtow to bigoted calls to remove a Bible from public display.

That could be useful, it seems.

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4 comments

  • JD — I’m not so sure this is the governments responsibility or a good idea. I don’t claim to know everything, but, I’m not aware of consistent or foundational documents of our country to support the governments interference with religion, it is a matter of individual conscience.

    If this remains the case, we will also need a Task Force that will help the Department fully implement non-religious 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.

    I think it would be a violation of the First Amendment and Establishment Clause to institutionalize the government’s commitment to religious liberty…the government must remain neutral. I fully support government employees exercising their individual religious liberties.

    • @Delta One
      Not sure where you’re getting “interference with religion” from this, and I’m not following your second para at all.

      Your third paragraph just sounds odd. The government’s “commitment to religious liberty” is already institutionalized, as it were, in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The government must be neutral with regard to religion — not neutral with regard to religious liberty. Nothing says the government cannot advocate for liberty; in fact, many would argue the Constitution requires it.

      Libertarian discussions aside, the government can and should protect liberties, including religious liberties. Would you not agree?

  • I can agree to a point JD, but a task force like this and under this administration would be like a jackhammer to anyone that does not believe the same way as they do. In other words, there will be no defense of the other person(s) beliefs except those this task force is being formed to “protect”.

    Yes, I may sound odd, and I know how you would likely respond; but you also consider the views of your commenters. I am not a liberal, but I do believe in personal liberty, economic freedom, and skeptical of too much government power. I favor government action to promote freedom, equality and safety, not government action to promote order or conformance–which I fully believe this task force will do.

    • @Delta One
      While I understand your hesitation, to be fair to AG Sessions, within this announcement he specifically cited examples of protecting, for example, Islamic beliefs, so it seems they at least deserve some benefit of the doubt that they’ll do what they say — which is promote freedom.

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