Sessions’ Speech Suggests Task Force Could Go After Pro-LGBT, Pro-Equality, and Anti-Hate Groups
Attorney General Jeff Sessions one week ago announced the creation of a new religious liberty task force within the Dept. of Justice. According to Buzzfeed News, the DOJ has not answered any questions about it, and won’t even respond to its questions.
As Buzzfeed’s Dominic Holden reports, Attorney General Sessions “had surrounded himself largely with players from the religious right, including anti-LGBT, anti-abortion organizations,” and told them the “‘dangerous movement’ threatening people of faith must be ‘confronted intellectually and politically and defeated.'”
There appears to be no public list of who will be on Sessions’ Religious Liberty Task Force. No criteria or qualifications have been published. No agenda. Not dates of meetings. And what, exactly, it will do that the DOJ is not doing now has not been made public, other than Sessions suggesting it will ensure continuity in DOJ actions and legal arguments, which is not generally the role of a task force.
And most importantly, will its meetings, actions, and records be public?
Buzzfeed asked the DOJ many of these questions.
The Justice Dept. did not answer. Aside from referring them back to the transcript of Sessions’ announcement, the DOJ did not respond.
Casey Brescia, a spokesperson for the Secular Coalition for America, told BuzzFeed News the Justice Department did not reach out to his organization, as the Obama administration did with its religious initiatives. And just as the Constitution protects religious exercise, he noted, it also guarantees that religion cannot be imposed on secular Americans.
“Sessions is twisting the concept of religious liberty and weaponizing, and using it to assert a political agenda that is the exact opposite of what it was intended for,” he said.
Sessions’ speech, clips of which MSNBC’s Joy Reid played this past weekend on “AM Joy,” reveal some of Sessions’ intent, as does the transcript of his speech.
For example, it appears Sessions intends to go after groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which the religious right for years has attacked for labeling lie-telling anti-gay organizations like the Family Research Council “hate groups.”
“We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a ‘hate group’ on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Sessions, falsely, claimed in his speech last week.
The Attorney General also bragged about the DOJ’s anti-gay stance in cases of Christian bakers refusing to sell wedding cakes to marrying same-sex couples.
“And, of course, we were proud to file a brief in support of Jack Phillips,” said Sessions, speaking about the Colorado baker who recently won a very narrow victory at the Supreme Court.
Religious liberty means freedom of religious practice, but also freedom from religious practice.
Under Sessions, its clear the DOJ has no interest in enforcing the latter.
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Marco Rubio Lashes Out Against Passage of Same-Sex Marriage Bill After His Attempt to Create Special Religious Rights Fails
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) lashed out with a Bible verse Wednesday morning, after the Senate passed legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage, while rejecting his attempt to infuse special religious rights through an amendment that even some Republicans refused to support.
The Respect for Marriage Act, which passed in a 61-36 vote Tuesday evening, will return to the House for a final vote before heading to President Joe Biden, who promised to sign it into law. Not included in the bill the Senate passed is Senator Rubio’s amendment, which he claimed was necessary despite the clear religious protections included in the legislation.
The bill goes to great lengths to state it will have no impact on current religious liberty protections. Section 6 is actually titled, “No Impact on Religious Liberty and Conscience.”
It states: “Nothing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or abrogate a religious liberty or conscience protection otherwise available to an individual or organization under the Constitution of the United States or Federal law.”
It goes even further.
“Consistent with the First Amendment to the Constitution, nonprofit religious organizations, including churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, mission organizations, faith-based social agencies, religious educational institutions, and nonprofit entities whose principal purpose is the study, practice, or advancement of religion, and any employee of such an organization, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage,” it reads. “Any refusal under this subsection to provide such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action.”
Senator Rubio has been actively opposed to the bill from the start. In July he called it a “stupid waste of time,” suggesting he does not think the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the 2015 Obergefell ruling that made same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional – despite actively calling for the court to do so.
Reminder: Marco Rubio has opposed same-sex marriage for years and even called for overturning the Supreme Court decision legalizing it. pic.twitter.com/oSkpNxi3V6
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) July 20, 2022
In addition to the video above, Florida Democrats this summer tweeted a video of a local news report showing Rubio preaching to campaign supporters that same-sex marriage is “sinful.”
After saying protecting marriage equality was “a stupid waste of time,” Marco Rubio held an event yesterday to double down on his attacks on Floridians’ rights: pic.twitter.com/XC5ZIAlj5r
— Florida Democrats (@FlaDems) September 2, 2022
Last week in a press release Sen. Rubio called the bill “the insanity,” and falsely claimed the Respect for Marriage Act does not have religious protections.
“This bill does not protect religious liberty,” Rubio said in a statement last week. “Nuns running orphanages will find themselves in court if it becomes law. That’s outrageous. No faith-based organization will be immune from the insanity. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Everyone. Removing this private right of action is the only way to truly protect people and organizations of faith.”
His amendment to create additional, special religious protections failed Tuesday evening, as did amendments from Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), and Senator James Lankford (R-OK).
During his failed 2016 White House run Sen. Rubio repeatedly promised he would not run for re-election. He used the Pulse Massacre, one of the worst and deadliest anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, to declare that the LGBTQ community needed him and launched a re-election campaign on the back of those massacred LGBTQ people.
Rubio, who is known for posting passages from the Bible on many mornings, on Wednesday used Christian verse to lash out at the Respect for Marriage Act.
“The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,giving wisdom to the simple,” he tweeted.
The law of the LORD is perfect,refreshing the soul. The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,giving wisdom to the simple.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 30, 2022
His tweet did not go over well. While some responded with a simple, “Amen,” others explained to the Senator who took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” that the Christian Bible is not the law of the land.
“The ‘law of the lord’ was deliberately excluded from the US Constitution,” wrote one social media user. “There is only one law in the US and it’s not the law of the lord, it’s the law of the people.”
History professor and author ￼Douglas M. Charles noted Rubio’s tweet had a small typo, and accused him of having a staffer do his work.
“More empty-suitness from the epitome of empty suit senators,” Charles wrote. “These copy-paste BS tweets of his always have a spacing typo, which is how you know a staffer copy-pasted it rather than his being serious about it.”
Mike Pence: Americans Have No Right to ‘Freedom From Religion’
Former Vice President Mike Pence claimed during a Wednesday appearance on Fox Business that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution does not protect Americans from having other people’s faiths forced upon them.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” it states.
In fact, there are no references to a supreme being anywhere in the Constitution, because the Founding Fathers were adamantly opposed to centralized religious power as well as requiring individuals to subscribe to any particular denomination.
The concept of separation of church and state was sacrosanct to men like President Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in his 1776 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom that “setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time” and that “to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”
Jefferson’s condemnation of forced faith in the document was unambiguous, further affirming that “no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
President James Madison, in whose hand the Constitution was penned, concurred with Jefferson.
“The settled opinion here is that religion is essentially distinct from Civil Government, and exempt from its cognizance; that a connexion between them is injurious to both; that there are causes in the human breast, which ensure the perpetuity of religion without the aid of the law,” Madison explained in an 1819 letter, noting that “a legal establishment of religion without a toleration could not be thought of, and with toleration, is no security for public quiet and harmony, but rather a source itself of discord and animosity.”
Benjamin Franklin took it one step further, arguing in 1780 that any religion that seeks to impose itself is simply “bad.”
Yet Pence and host Larry Kudlow share an interpretation that strays wildly from what Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison clearly spelled out more than two centuries ago.
“These lefties want to scrap religion, Mike Pence, and I think it’s a terrible mistake,” Kudlow griped.
“Well, the radical left believes that the freedom of religion is the freedom from religion. But it’s nothing the American founders ever thought of or generations of Americans fought to defend,” Pence said.
As mentioned, that statement is completely false. Jefferson even concluded in his treatise that “such act will be an infringement of natural right.”
But Pence was not finished. He also suggested that the Supreme Court’s right-wing supermajority has a duty to side with one faith over another. Today, that means the GOP’s embrace of Christian nationalism.
“You know, I said today here in Houston that the source of our nation’s greatness has always been our faith in God, our freedom, and our vast natural resources. And the good news is, that after four years of the Trump-Pence administration, I’m confident that we have a pro-religious freedom majority on the Supreme Court of the United States. And I’m confident that come Election Day, November the 8th, you’re gonna see that freedom majority around the country turn out and vote pro-freedom majorities in the House, and in the Senate, and in statehouses around the country,” Pence said. “So stay tuned, Larry. Help is on the way.”
Watch below or at this link.
Fox Business' Larry Kudlow: "These lefties want to scrap religion."
Former Vice President Mike Pence: "The good news is, that after four years of the Trump-Pence administration, I'm confident that we have a pro-religious freedom majority on the Supreme Court." pic.twitter.com/GO1uW6FdPP
— The Recount (@therecount) October 26, 2022
Florida Father Sues School for ‘Proselytizing’ in Favor of ‘Homosexual Lifestyles’ Under DeSantis Don’t Say Gay Law
A West Palm Beach dad is suing his son’s public school district under Florida Governor Ron DeSantis‘ “Don’t Say Gay” law, claiming a teacher posted two rainbow pride flags and “proselytized” in favor of “homosexual lifestyles,” which he claims are against his religious beliefs.
“Dr. Francisco Deliu’s 12-year-old son is in seventh grade at Emerald Cove Middle School,” which is part of the Palm Beach County School District, WPTV reports. He is suing the school district, the school board, the school, its principal, and the teacher.
The lawsuit claims the father’s “substantive human rights” and “due process rights” were violated. It says he learned from his son “that his school is expressly and/or implicitly advocating for homosexuality as an alternative way of life. He disagrees and complains. The school dismisses his concerns without reasons. He takes the matter to the superior authorities. They ignore his grievances entirely. Meanwhile, his boy’s education suffers.”
WPTV reports that “Deliu’s lawsuit claimed Emerald Cove Middle School is trying to ‘mold his child’s mind without his consent,’ adding that ‘there is no lawful authority that permits the Teacher, Principal, School, District and/or Board to teach, discuss or otherwise educate the students, including Dr. Deliu’s son, about gay pride, homosexuality or the like but especially not in a computer science course.'”
“Deliu claimed the teacher’s actions are a violation of Florida’s ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights ‘law, which was passed and went into effect in 2021.”
The lawsuit describes him as a “a married man who was baptized in, throughout his lifetime held and currently holds Christian-Orthodox religious beliefs. He is originally from Romania and was given refugee status in the United States of America in 1980 on the grounds of religious and political persecution by the Communist Ceaușescu regime.”
“Dr Deliu and his son are both born, baptized and practicing Orthodox Christians. Their religion considers homosexuality a sin. Their sincere and genuine beliefs are that homosexuality is not in accordance with their Bible. Dr Deliu is a libertarian who lives by a ‘live and let live creed. He respects the rights of others, but also demands they not encroach upon his rights. He is against government intrusion upon his rights, especially in terms of how to raise his son,” the lawsuit reads.
“Dr Deliu’s son was born in New Zealand and exclusively went to various private schools in New Zealand and Romania until the family returned to the United States of America in 2020 because of breaches of their human rights in Romania due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, mask, social distancing and vaccine mandates.”
The lawsuit even laments that although his son “was a straight-A student in the 4th quarter…the school failed to give out any honor roll awards.”
Image via Shutterstock
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