Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” at the Justice Department saying Donald Trump’s election has given the right a “rare opportunity” to stop a “dangerous movement, undetected by many” that is eroding religious freedom.
In reality, the task force is simply an extension of the Trump administration’s war on LGBTQ rights and women’s right to choose.
“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 said during the announcement.
Mediate reports that Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ hate group with several former staffers firmly embedded in the Trump administration, is largely behind the task force’s formation.
“ADF holds dozens of extreme anti-LGBTQ positions on nearly every every aspect of life, including supporting laws that would punish sodomy by imprisonment, writing in favor of Russia’s so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law, and advocating against efforts to protect LGBTQ youth from the harmful and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” the site reports.
“The group is in many ways the most influential group working to roll back LGBTQ equality in the country, frequently targeting basic protections for transgender students and pushing religious exemptions policies.”
Sessions’ statement defending hate groups echoes previous anti-LGBTQ actions by Republicans since Trump’s election. Earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed Tony Perkins, head of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“In the wake of the Obama administration, we are witnessing a revival of freedom!” Perkins sent out in a press release shortly after Sessions’ speech. “The announcement of the creation of a new Religious Liberty Task Force by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the launch of the next phase of President Trump’s campaign promise to protect the religious freedoms of all Americans.”
“The formation of this task force puts bureaucrats on notice: you will respect the freedom of every American not only to believe but to live according to those beliefs.”
Perkins has compared same-sex marriage as the marriage between “a man and his horse,” describing anti-bullying efforts in schools as “disgusting” attempts to “convert” kids to the “gay lifestyle,” and linking homosexuality to pedophilia.
He also has long-standing ties to white supremacist groups and former leader of the KKK, David Duke. Duke helped Perkins get elected twice to the Louisiana state legislature.