DOJ Religious Liberty Announcement

Jul 30, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Trump administration has created a Religious Liberty Task Force, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in order to further the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) work to protect and promote religious liberty as established in the Religious Liberty Memorandum and the Implementation Memorandum. 

On October 6, 2017, Attorney General Sessions issued two memoranda. The first, the Memorandum to All Executive Departments and Agencies on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty (“Religious Liberty Memorandum”), explained twenty key principles of religious liberty in U.S. law and provided direction to agencies in four areas: agencies as employers, rulemaking, enforcement actions, and contracting or grant-making. 

On the same day, Attorney General Sessions also issued a memorandum within the DOJ instructing components on how to implement the Religious Liberty Memorandum (“Implementation Memorandum”).  This Implementation Memorandum called on components to incorporate the Religious Liberty Memorandum in all aspects of the DOJ’s litigation, in advice to other agencies, in department operations, and through its own rulemaking and its interagency rule review.  The Implementation Memorandum required components to notify the associate attorney general of all issues that arise which implicate the Religious Liberty Memorandum.  

The Religious Liberty Task Force will:  (1) facilitate DOJ compliance with the memoranda;( 2) address novel, recurring, or cross-cutting issues in the DOJ’s work implicating the memoranda; (3) facilitate interagency coordination regarding the Religious Liberty Memorandum; (4) engage in outreach to the public, religious communities, and religious liberty organizations to obtain feedback on compliance with the Religious Liberty Memorandum; and (5) develop new strategies, involving litigation, policy, and legislation, to protect and promote religious liberty.       

Liberty Counsel’s Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The establishment of a Religious Liberty Task Force is an historic and positive step by the Trump administration to protect religious freedom and the rights of conscience. Today’s announcement by the Department of Justice is encouraging, and the Trump administration is to be commended for making this 180-degree turn from the past administration which used the federal government to violate religious freedom and conscience rather than protecting our first freedom. This task force sends a strong message that there is a commitment to protecting religious freedom,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.