On Monday, July 30, 2018, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice held a Religious Liberty Summit. Under the guidance of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the event hosted the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian advocacy group, and Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to serve a gay couple in violation of the state’s nondiscrimination law.
According to AG Sessions,
Let’s be frank: A dangerous movement, undetected by many, but real, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt, it’s no little matter. It must be confronted intellectually and politically, and defeated.”
Sessions followed up with examples of Christians, operating in the secular world, asked to separate their personal beliefs from the execution of their secular jobs. “We’ve all seen the ordeal faced so bravely by Jack Phillips,” Sessions remarked highlighting the controversial Colorado baker.
The United States’ highest level of law enforcement failed, however, to mention any of the increased incidents of violence and vandalism aimed at Jews, Muslims, Sikhs or any other non-Christian faiths.
Baptist minister Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove agreed Tuesday that there is a great danger to freedom in the United States regarding religion. But from his perspective, the threat comes from Christians like Sessions and Phillips.
In a piece written for NBC News, Wilson-Hartgrove said:
It’s time for people who care about the future of democratic society to reclaim the concept of religious liberty.”
Both religion & liberty are being redefined by the Trump administration to serve an extreme agenda. It’s time for people who care about the future of democratic society to reclaim the concept of religious liberty. https://t.co/edjpK2NT4O
— Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (@wilsonhartgrove) July 31, 2018
He went on:
“Plenty of Americans still value the separation of church and state and, along with it, the establishment clause’s guarantee of freedom of conscience for all people,” the Baptist minister continues in his NBC News Hot Take. “Outside the circles of the extreme right, religious liberty has long been a progressive value, celebrated by abolitionists, tax resisters, conscientious objectors and religious minorities alike.”
So long as an American respects the legal rights of his neighbor, the Constitution promises him the freedom to obey his own conscience when it comes to matters of religious conviction.”
And therein lies the issue with the Trump brand of religious liberty and freedom of religion. As Wilson-Hartgrove explains further.