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Sessions: 'Understandable' to Feel Religious Freedom Is 'Under Attack'

Image: Sessions: 'Understandable' to Feel Religious Freedom Is 'Under Attack'
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By    |   Friday, 14 Jul 2017 11:37 AM

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that it's "understandable" that many Americans feel that freedom of religion is "under attack" in a speech to the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Sessions gave a closed-door speech to the Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center declared an "anti-LGBT hate group" in 2016, earlier this week. The text of his speech was released by The Federalist on Thursday. In it, Sessions praises the group for its "important work," and warns that the "changing cultural climate" puts the "future of religious liberty" in question.

"The cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief," he said. "And in recent years, many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack. This feeling is understandable."

Sessions also said that President Donald Trump, whom he describes as "an unwavering defender of religious liberty," directed him to "issue guidance on how to apply federal religious liberty protections."

"The department is finalizing this guidance, and I will soon issue it," he added.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., who became the first openly gay U.S. senator in 2013, told ABC News that she found Sessions' support for the ADF "troubling."

"This sends a very troubling message that our attorney general, America's top law enforcement official, is not committed to standing up to anti-LGBT hate," she said.

Baldwin wasn't alone in her consternation. Human rights activists slammed Sessions in emails to NBC News Thursday.

"Sessions' alarming comments proved what LGBTQ and civil rights leaders know to be true — that he cannot be trusted," wrote JoDee Winterhof, Human Rights Campaign senior vice president for policy and political affairs. "A month ago, he vowed to protect transgender women from violent attacks and now we find him promoting license to discriminate laws. This is another predictable step for the anti-LGBTQ Trump-Pence Administration."

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, wrote: "Here he goes again. It appears [what] the Attorney General is saying is that he will only enforce a 'civil rights' law that is meant as an excuse to discriminate; but he won't enforce longstanding, real civil rights laws like Title IX, Title IX and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act."

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that it's "understandable" that many Americans feel that freedom of religious is "under attack" in a speech to the Alliance Defending Freedom.
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Friday, 14 Jul 2017 11:37 AM
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