Nontheists Warn Attorney General’s Task Force Will Push Religious Privilege

Washington, DC — The Secular Coalition for America released a statement today in response to news that the Department of Justice is establishing a “religious liberty task force.” The announcement follows remarks made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department’s religious liberty summit. In his speech, Sessions said; “In short, we have not only the freedom to worship-but the right to exercise our faith. The Constitution’s protections don’t end at the parish parking lot nor can our freedoms be confined to our basements. Religious Americans are no longer an afterthought.”

Statement by Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America

“This is a religious privilege task force – plain and simple. According to Attorney General Sessions, this task force is going to take its marching orders from the Justice Department’s Memorandum on Religious Liberty. That Memorandum lays out the entire political agenda of the religious right and flips the entire notion of ‘religious liberty’ on its head by instructing federal agencies to treat religious belief as an incontestable get-out-of-jail-free card.”

“If fully implemented, the Memorandum would give individuals, organizations, and for-profit corporations that claim a religious affiliation an exemption from a whole swath of federal, state, and local laws. When this Memorandum was announced, we called it a ‘declaration of war’ against the LGBTQ community, women, nontheists, and religious minorities. The task force Sessions’ announced today will be his foot soldiers in the war against the wall of separation between church and state.”

“Any honest examination of this Administration’s record and the political debt it owes to the religious right leaves little doubt about whose interests this task force will serve. Contrary to Attorney General Sessions’ Orwellian double-speak, this task force will not protect the ‘free exercise’ of faith but empower individuals to impose their religious beliefs on others. We have already seen numerous examples of how the Trump Administration has allowed health care providers to deny patients urgently needed care and medicine, sided with businesses that discriminate against customers and employees, and funneled taxpayer money directly to religious institutions.”

“For Attorney General Sessions, faith can only be freely exercised when it is entitled to taxpayer money and elevated above the civil rights of others. If this religious liberty task force is serious about protecting religious freedom, it should set its sights on the unholy union between the Trump Administration and the religious right, not same-sex couples looking for wedding cakes.”

Contact: Casey Brescia
Senior Communications Associate and Spokesman
[email protected], (845) 380-6201


The Secular Coalition for America is the nation’s premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 19 voting member organizations.

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