Jeff Sessions: Religious freedom and the promise of Easter

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Jeff Sessions
[Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jay Reeves]

Easter celebrates the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus the Christ, and his victory over sin and death—which is the confirmation of our victory in Him. Amidst all of the panic and uncertainty in the world right now, we pause to reflect and renew that faith with our families and friends. While the ongoing pandemic has limited our ability to gather in person, it will not diminish our ability to receive blessings and joy on this special day.

Passover and the Easter weekend this year come during a time of unease for many people, as the pandemic upends our lives in strange and unforeseen ways. As Christians, Mary and I are immensely grateful for the promise of Easter—for the reality that God is with us, and that we can endure and triumph over trials.

We are so grateful to live in a country where our Constitution protects our right to worship freely. In fact, our very form of government and society is inextricably linked to our Founding Fathers’ resolute faith in God. As John Adams wrote in 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

The Judeo-Christian belief that we live in a created and ordered universe and that there is an objective truth, which is to be sought and obeyed, has been fundamental to our great nation.

Our first president, George Washington, called for a national day of prayer.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s movement for civil rights was rooted in his faith. As he described it, “Each individual has certain basic rights that are neither derived from nor conferred by the state…they are gifts from the hands of the Almighty God.”

And every day that the United States Senate is in session, it opens in prayer to God.

Today, there are those who are determined to erase God from our nation, and who wrongfully attack constitutionally-protected public expressions of faith.

Just this week, an extreme anti-religious group based in Wisconsin, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent a letter threatening my friend, Kay Ivey, because she cited the book of Isaiah in a news conference, and invited a pastor to offer a prayer for Alabama during these trying times.

It is stunning that anyone would take issue with a leader like Governor Ivey seeking to reassure the people of Alabama during a time when many are anxious, but this group attacked her nonetheless.

This is part of a broader cultural war on Christianity and religious freedom in the United States. Ignoring our constitutional protections, these radical groups have attempted to weaponize the government to harass and persecute Christians in all areas, including the football players at Reeltown High School who were voluntarily baptized at their school’s stadium last year, or even nuns, artists, bakers, and florists who have stood firm in their beliefs when society tried to force them to break.

I understand that you cannot have freedom without protecting faith. In my lifetime of service, I have championed religious freedom. As United States Attorney General, I made sure that our government started protecting the First Amendment again. We reversed the radically secularist positions of the Obama administration, which had sued the Little Sisters of the Poor to force nuns to provide abortion pills. We fought at the Supreme Court for their right to their beliefs, and we won.

The radical left tried to punish Colorado Christian cake baker Jack Phillips for declining to participate in wedding ceremonies that were contrary to his beliefs. We stepped in and argued in Jack’s favor at the Supreme Court. And again, we won.

Under my leadership, the Justice Department also issued instructions to federal agencies that required them under the law to protect religious liberties and stop persecuting Americans for their faith. And to make sure those agencies complied, I established the Religious Liberty Task Force to hold them accountable.

The Constitution guarantees every American, from public officials like Governor Ivey to private citizens like Jack Phillips, the right to freely exercise their faith.

Every day across America and Alabama, people of faith feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, educate our young people, provide care for the sick and needy, and provide comfort and wisdom to millions in times of troubles and joy. The government has no idea this is even happening.

This Easter weekend, I invite you to join Mary and me in giving thanks to God for the joy of the Resurrection and its promise of ultimate victory. And I hope you will join me in giving thanks to God that we live in a country where we can freely worship without fear. It is a right that we cherish, and it is a right that we must resolutely defend.

Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.