Washington, D.C. – Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a Memorandum on Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty, addressed to all executive departments and agencies.

This memo issues guidance on interpreting and safeguarding religious liberty within the federal government, including twenty key principles of religious-liberty protections. The memo states, in part:

“Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. It also encompasses religious observance and practice. Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law… In the United States, the free exercise of religion is not a mere policy preference to be traded against other policy preferences. It is a fundamental right.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has issued the following statement in support of Attorney General Sessions’ guidance:

Chairman Goodlatte: “In recent years, we have seen a cultural shift away from organized religion, and even occasional government intrusion targeting people of faith. We have seen public officials criticized for their religious beliefs, elected representatives who have called for a ‘religious test’ for public office, and marketplace discrimination against religious people who own and run businesses according to the dictates of their individual consciences. Yet the Constitution is clear: the freedom to believe and act in accordance with belief is fundamental and non-negotiable for all Americans. I applaud Attorney General Sessions for his commitment to uphold religious liberty throughout all federal agencies and departments.”

Background:

Chairman Goodlatte has previously praised the White House for its determination to protect First Amendment Rights, and the Subcommittee on Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing earlier this year examining the state of religious liberty in America. To read the Chairman’s opening statement at that hearing, click here.