DOJ Religious Liberty Task Force

Aug 1, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new Religious Liberty Task Force in the Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect and promote religious liberty as established in the October 2017 Religious Liberty Memorandum and the Implementation Memorandum

During his remarks, Sessions referenced, without using its name, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a threat to religious liberty, suggesting the new task force may investigate the left-wing activist group.

Sessions said, “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 . . . 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.” (Emphasis added). 

According to Sessions, 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.       

Last June, Liberty Counsel joined a coalition of leaders and organizations in releasing an open letter to government agencies, news organizations, corporations and social media platforms to sever their ties with the SPLC and its ongoing effort to defame and slander mainstream conservative organizations. The SPLC grossly misrepresents and labels Liberty Counsel and other pro-family and conservative organizations as so-called “hate groups.”

“One of the first actions the Religious Liberty Task Force should take is to demand that all federal agencies disavow association and reliance upon the SPLC,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The SPLC has publicly stated that its motivation is to ‘destroy’ groups with which it disagrees. The SPLC’s defamatory ‘hate group’ label encourages violence by falsely labeling peaceful, law-abiding citizens and organizations as haters and hate groups. This ‘hate’ label is false, defamatory and dangerous,” 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.