Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at an event Tuesday hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal nonprofit that tackles cases related to religious freedom, the sanctity of life, marriage and family.
In his speech, Sessions lauded America’s extensive track record of defending religious freedom, while also noting some of the darker moments in which the country has failed to uphold the First Amendment.
“Our Founders wisely recognized that religion is not an accident of history or a passing circumstance. It is at the core of the human experience … ,” he said.
Sessions asserted that “our freedom as citizens has always been inextricably linked with our religious freedom as a people,” adding that the First Amendment exists to protect “both the freedom to worship and the freedom not to believe as well.”
But in recent history, Sessions noted, the country’s “cultural climate has become less hospitable to people of faith and to religious belief. And in recent years, many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack.”
The attorney general concluded by assuring President Donald Trump’s “unwavering” commitment to religious liberty.
“Under this administration, religious Americans will be treated neither as an afterthought nor as a problem to be managed,” he said.
Sessions also shared that the president has directed him “to issue guidance on how to apply federal religious liberty protections,” which he will be releasing “soon.”
On Thursday, The Federalist published a full transcript of the speech. Almost immediately, mainstream news outlets attacked Sessions for delivering the “closed-door speech” to an alleged “hate group.”
“In Closed-Door Speech, Jeff Sessions Tells Right-Wing Group Religion Is Under Attack,” read ABC’s headline.
The SPLC has a long history of attacking religious and political conservatives in the United States and abroad. Just last month, British Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz announced his plans to sue the SPLC for adding him to its list of “anti-Muslim extremists.”
On its website, the progressive liberal think tank boasts that it is “currently tracking more than 1,600 extremists groups” operating in the United States alone. Here are just a few of the organizations the SPLC classifies as “hate groups”: the American Family Association, the Family Research Council, and the Jewish Defense League.
The amount of vitriol directed at Sessions and the ADF in the wake of this week’s speech proves the attorney general’s point that America has strayed from its commitment to promoting and defending the religious freedom of all. Instead, we have allowed progressive, secular bullies to spin the narrative and shame people into silence for the beliefs they hold.
Religious Americans should hope that the irony of the media backlash against Sessions’ speech is not lost on the Trump administration, and that the president will continue to defend the First Amendment rights of all citizens moving forward.
Any person who has a problem with Sessions’ ADF address ultimately has a problem with the fundamental values on which this country was founded. To read the full speech, click here.