WASHINGTON – In advance of the hearing to consider Loretta Lynch’s nomination as the next Attorney General of the United States, Rabbi Jack Moline, executive director of Interfaith Alliance, sent the following letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to ask Mrs. Lynch key questions about religious freedom:
As Executive Director of Interfaith Alliance I represent an organization committed to defending religious freedom. Our members identify among more than seventy-five faith traditions. I write to you today to urge you to include a full examination of U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch’s record and beliefs regarding religious freedom during her nomination hearing to become the next Attorney General of the United States.
The U.S. Department of Justice is tasked with ensuring that our nation’s laws and practices live up to the ideals set forth in the Constitution. It is imperative that its leader is someone with a deep knowledge and respect for the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom. While there are many religious freedom concerns our next Attorney General must consider, I raise two and encourage you to ask Ms. Lynch these questions at her confirmation hearing.
Discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity runs contrary to our nation’s values and laws. Government funding of such discrimination violates the core promise of the Constitution’s guarantee to equal treatment before the law. In order to live up to that goal both Democratic- and Republican-majority sessions of Congress and administrations from both parties have passed laws and issued executive orders requiring government contractors to abide by non-discrimination provisions.
Unfortunately both the Bush and Obama Administration have allowed religious organizations contracting with the federal government an exemption from non-discrimination provisions. Federal dollars should not fund discrimination, nor should they further religious doctrine. We urge you to ask Ms. Lynch: “Do you agree that federal contractors and grantees should not use taxpayer money to subsidize discrimination?”
Another area of concern is the relationship between law enforcement agencies and religious communities. The Justice Department recently took action toward eliminating religious profiling by federal law enforcement. However, it left in place overbroad exemptions for cases involving national security, airports and the U.S. border. Additionally it did not take the necessary steps to curtail profiling by local law enforcement agencies. Religious expression is not truly free if that expression makes you the target of government profiling or surveillance. We urge you to ask Ms. Lynch: “What steps would you take as Attorney General to ensure that law enforcement respects religious freedom?”
If there is anything that we at The Interfaith Alliance can do to assist you as you consider this important nomination, please contact me.
Rabbi Jack Moline,
Interim Executive Director
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.