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Dominic Holden @dominicholden
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Jeff Sessions is hosting a politicized “Religious Liberty” Summit" at DOJ headquarters Monday that leans almost entirely on the Christian right.

It’s backed by ADF (the gay wedding cake group) and one of DOJ officials speaking is Kerri Kupec, who used to be ADF spokesperson.
Jeff Sessions’ religious liberty summit has begun at the Justice Department headquarters.

You can watch live here:
NEWS: Jeff Sessions just announced new “Religious Liberty Task Force,” which he will run, joined by DOJ officials. His summit today leans heavily on Christian right.

Task force will ensure compliance with his "religious liberty” memo from October and coordinate w/other agencies.
Background — our article from October about the “religious liberty” memo Sessions issued in October:…
Sessions warns of "dangerous movement” to threaten "religious freedom.”

He defends groups that have been, as he puts it, branded as “hate groups.”

He’s taking a jab at Southern Poverty Law Center and defending groups like anti-LGBT Family Research Council.
Sessions praises Trump for letting us “say Marry Christmas again.” He claims there’s a “cultural climate,” especially in the Western US, that threatens people of faith.
Sessions is talking about how the DOJ prosecuted mosque arsonist — to make his religious liberty agenda appear universal — but the religious summit he’s hosting is stacked heavily to the conservative Christian right.
Sessions says his new "Religious Liberty Task Force" for will ensure every division of the DOJ has upholding/enforcing the guidance he issued in October.
The political leanings of Sessions’ religious freedom summit are on display with his next speaker — Archbishop Joseph Kurtz.

Anti-gay Kurtz is former head of US Conference of Catholic Bishops, an aggressively anti-LGBT, politicized wing of the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Kurtz — inside DOJ headquarters, speaking right after Jeff Sessions — is currently talking about “partnering with the government” and the need to defend state-funded adoption agencies that turn away gay parents.
Here is Jeff Sessions’ full speech on "religious liberty" and his new Religious Liberty Task Force.

Prepared remarks 1/2
Here is Jeff Sessions’ full speech on "religious liberty" and his new Religious Liberty Task Force.

Prepared remarks 2/2
.@TheDemocrats condemn Justice Department’s new Religious Liberty Task Force — "taxpayer-funded platform to push their anti-equality agenda."
Jeff Sessions' new Religious Liberty Task Force hasn't announced agenda or schedule, so it's unclear what it will do.

Is it a bone to the Christian right before midterms? Or an actual vehicle to change behavior of federal agencies?
I'm not clear the task force can do anything Sessions' isn't empowered to do already — he runs the DOJ, and has long arms to influence other agencies on legal matters on his own.
Certainly the Religious Liberty Task Force could make other agencies feel like they're being watched.

Sessions has politicized the Justice Dept to protect many conservative/Christian causes in civil cases.

The task force could pressure other agencies to do the same.
The task force's existence, on its own, doesn't seem like an illegal fusion of church and state (as some have said).

But its rollout, at a summit of the Christian right, raises flags that the task force may enshrine a specific brand of religious exercise.
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