Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo today that purports to provide guidance to federal agencies on the interpretation of religious liberty protections. Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, issued the following statement in response:
“Attorney General Sessions’ memo is a recipe for religious-based discrimination. Most of the twenty supposed principles are intended to lay the groundwork for denying services to LGBT people, women and religious minorities.
“It’s remarkable that in 2017, the nation’s top law enforcement official is working to wind the clock back on equal rights for all Americans. Let’s consider the America envisioned by Sessions and his Religious Right allies.
“It’s one where businesses, open to the general public, can slam their doors in the faces of anyone who runs afoul of their religious beliefs, no matter how extreme. It’s one where employers dictate their employees’ intimate health decisions and pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions for women seeking birth control. If we establish a right for businesses to discriminate on religious grounds, wedding cakes will be the least of our problems.
“Attorney General Sessions also used the memo to attack the Johnson Amendment and church-state separation. He and his allies want to turn conservative churches into partisan political weapons and siphon taxpayer dollars to subsidize religious organizations, a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
“Today’s memo formalizes the Religious Right’s effort to redefine religious freedom to mean something very different from what the framers of the Constitution intended. Fortunately the American people, and our Constitution, do not view religious freedom as a license to discriminate. We hope, and trust, that the courts will make quick work of Session’s specious arguments.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.