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Religious Liberties Task Force..

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Posted on August 01 2018

 

In the name of Jesus

 

...I compel you to resign 

 

Just a mere two days ago Attorney General (AG) Sessions issued a follow up 2 page memorandum regarding Religious Liberties and the formation of a Department of Justice “Religious Liberty Task Force”. The July 30th DOJ memorandum reads in part:

Department's ongoing work to implement the Religious Liberty Memorandum and the implementation memorandum. The Task Force will also consider new initiatives that will further the Department's work to protect and promote religious liberty. To that end, the Task Force will:

l) facilitate Department component compliance with the memoranda;

2) address novel, recurring, or cross-cutting issues in the Department's work implicating the memoranda;

3) facilitate interagency coordination regarding the Religious Liberty Memorandum;

4) engage in outreach to the public, religious communities, and religious liberty organizations to obtain feedback on compliance with the Religious Liberty Memorandum; and

5) develop new strategies, involving litigation, policy, and legislation, to protect and promote religious liberty. 

 

To put AG Sessions’ July 30th memorandum into better context, it is best to read the October 6, 2017, where the AG “issued guidance to all administrative agencies and executive departments regarding religious liberty protections in federal law”

His 25 page Memo can be found here. The October 2017 memorandum went to all heads of the Executive Departments and Agencies. AG Sessions provided a summary of “twenty principles of religious liberty” and included an appendix containing interpretive guidance of federal-law protections for religious liberty to support those principles.

 

 

Shortly thereafter AG Sessions sent out a 2 page implementation memo, found here. In issuing the aforementioned Memorandum, Appendix and Implementation AG Sessions started the following:

“Our freedom as citizens has always been inextricably linked with our religious freedom as a people. It has protected both the freedom to worship and the freedom not to believe. Every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faith. The protections for this right, enshrined in our Constitution and laws, serve to declare and protect this important part of our heritage.

“As President Trump said, ‘Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation . . . [this administration] will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.’

“The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the freeist and most generous. President Trump promised that this administration would ‘lead by example on religious liberty,’ and he is delivering on that promise.”

 

I should probably admit I am not a fan of AG Sessions. He reminds me of that wacky southern uncle that you avoid at all cost during a Summer Family Reunion BBQ. You know what I’m talking about, you know that Uncle who drinks too much beer and gets all “in the name of Jesus”...and in general I am not a fan of any government employee who uses his/her tax payer funded position to: Prosthelytize.

1. the act of becoming or the condition of being a convert to an opinion, political party, or religious group.

2. an active policy of inviting or persuading converts, especially to a religious position

 

Separation of Church and State?

While it is true the those five words are not found in our Constution, this colloquialism came from a January 1, 1802 Letter from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist association. You can read the full text of Jefferson’s 1802 Letter via this Library of Congress link

 

 

 ‘I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof', thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.

 

In simpler terms Jefferson’s (now immortal words) “separation of Church and State” addresses the First Amendment, the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

 

This separation is also echoed in Article VI of our Constitution, which specifically states:

 "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

 

With respect to our Supreme Court, you need not look further than the following cases:

Reynolds v. United States (1878)

In this case the invocation of President Thomas Jefferson’s 1802 Letter to Danbury is repeatedly cited, see page 98 under Jeff Works:

 Everson v. Board of Education (1947)

“the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.’”

Justice Hugo Black wrote:

"In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state

Lemon v Kurtzman:

 Chief Justice Berger wrote:

...violating the Establishment Clause. The statute must have a secular legislative purpose, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither promotes nor inhibits religion, and it must not foster “excessive government entanglement with religion.”

SCOTUS opined that under the "Lemon" test, government can assist religion only if

(1) the primary purpose of the assistance is secular,

(2) the assistance must neither promote nor inhibit religion, and

(3) there is no excessive entanglement between church and state.

 

So now that you have a historical and fulsome explanation of Separation of Church and State, coupled with AG Sessions memos...now on to the MAIN COURSE:

Earlier today the ACLU, along with (a conglomerate of legal advocacy and civil liberties groups), Prison Law Office and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center filed suit against; the Trump administration, ICE, and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

Case No: 5:18-cv-01609

 

..violating the constitutional rights of immigrants currently detained at one of those federal prisons in Victorville, California

Defendants fail to provide religious services or consultation with
clergy
, and they prohibit detainees from engaging in group prayer and congregate worship.

They deny detainees halal or kosher meals that comport with their religious needs, forcing many to go hungry. Upon the detainees’
detention by the Defendants, Defendants confiscate all religious head covers, jewelry, and other articles of faith, and the detainees are unable to obtain replacements for the items.

...about immigrants and refugees who have come to the United States seeking relief...men—refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, India, Cameroon, and other troubled regions.

Since June 8, 2018, Defendants have imprisoned more than 1,000
civil immigration detainees, in violation of their constitutional rights,

 

 It should be noted that NONE of these detainees have been convicted of any crime, nor have they been afforded a bond hearing or an asylum hearing, which allows them to explain why they are seeking asylum. Where a Judge can determine if there’s a “credible asylum claim”.

 

other detainees are also denied their constitutional rights guaranteed by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as their statutory rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, et seq.

Court should order the Defendants immediately to provide Plaintiffs, and the classes they seek to represent, adequate health care, nutrition, out-of-cell time, programming, reading materials, religious diets, religious clothing and jewelry, religious texts, opportunities for prayer and group worship, and other accommodations necessary to practice their religious beliefs.

 

You can read the full complaint here

For those who may not know, certain religions such as the Sikh religion, men are required to wear a Dastaar, also known as a turban. A “Kara” is a steel or iron (sarb loh) bracelet. The Kara is unbreakable attachment and commitment to God. For the record I’m fortunate enough to have neighbors that practice: Sikh, Hindu and Islam. My neighbors are always happy to answer my questions. And as cheesy as this sounds I am trying my level best to raise my kiddos to understand and respect ALL religions and that we are “all equal”.

 

Case in point in the Hindi faith women apply the kumkum and then a bindi to the center of their forehead to attract good energy and force away bad energy. Jewelry is worn not just for the ornamental esthetics but it’s also worn to “help at a spiritual level by protecting us from negative energy attacks and in imbibing Chaitanya.” If you live in a Metropolitan area or a suburb with a vibrant immigrant community, you may notice in late Fall what looks like Christmas lights, they aren’t. It is most likely a celebration of Diwali, also known as the “festival of lights”. This festival marks the victory of good over evil and it’s akin to the Christians who celebrate Christmas.

My point of this entry? The hypocrisy of the Trump Administration and I am fairly certain God is not amused by AG Sessions’ hypocrisy and cruelty. In fact I know God and Sessions’ Church are offended by his unchristian actions, see the letter, which reads in part 

 

While other individuals and areas of the federal government are implicated in each of these examples, Mr. Sessions - as a long-term United Methodist in a tremendously powerful, public position - is particularly accountable to us, his church. He is ours, and we are his. As his denomination, we have an ethical obligation to speak boldly when one of our members is engaged in causing significant harm in matters contrary to the Discipline on the global stage. Several Bishops and other denominational leaders have spoken out about this matter, urging Methodists to contact Mr. Sessions and for these policies to change, but we believe that the severity of his actions and the harm he is causing to immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylees calls for his church to step into a process to directly engage with him as a part of our community.

 

 

 

 

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