Civil liberties groups decry Sessions’s guidance on religious freedom

Source: The Washington Post

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued sweeping guidance to executive branch agencies Friday on the Justice Department’s interpretation of how the government should respect religious freedom, triggering an immediate backlash from civil liberties groups who asserted the nation’s top law enforcement officer was trying to offer a license for discrimination.

In a memorandum titled “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” Sessions articulated 20 sweeping principles about religious freedom and what that means for the U.S. government — among them that freedom of religion extends to people and organizations; that religious employers are allowed to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs; and that grants can’t require religious organizations to change their character.

Though the principles are lofty — and some of them in no way objectionable — they could have a broad negative impact, permitting religious groups to impinge on the rights of LGBT people and others, said civil liberties advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Federation and others. The announcement, though, was welcomed by groups like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council.

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