Attorney General Jeff Sessions has often used “religious freedom” to justify what would otherwise be considered a potential violation of the separation of church and state, but now he has taken it a step further.
Without announcement, Sessions inserted a policy requiring all U.S. Attorneys’ offices in the country to assign a staff member to monitor litigation and report back whenever religious issues are mentioned. Basically, they want to use taxpayer money to help them pay attention to their pet cause, which would make it easier for the federal government to intervene and defend religion.
The policy also requires Department of Justice officials to consult with political appointees, picked by Donald Trump, before pursuing civil suits involving religious liberty issues, according to American Atheists.
… By doing so, the Trump administration is favoring religious beliefs above all other matters, and is eroding the independence of these offices by allowing a political appointee to overrule the judgment of career DOJ attorneys.
“This is a breathtaking expansion of religious privilege in the DOJ,” said American Atheists’ legal and policy director Alison Gill. “These policy changes significantly undermine the rule of law and favor religious beliefs at the expense of nondiscrimination and equal protection.”
“Requiring the approval of religious political appointees before enforcing the law is something I would expect to see in a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia, but I’m rapidly losing any sense of shock and surprise at the lengths this administration will go to impose the beliefs of religious extremists on all Americans,” added David Silverman, president of American Atheists.
Trump has delivered gift after gift to the Religious Right, beginning perhaps with the appointment of Sessions himself as Attorney General. This is just the most recent example. This type of thing isn’t really surprising anymore, but it continues to be a far cry from what our Constitution demands: a true separation of church and state.
Sessions may get away with this, because he’s using “religious freedom” as his reason for looking into these cases, but there’s no doubt that his goal is to expand the government’s role in religious issues to favor Christians.
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