DOJ draws ire of New York Times over religious liberty training for attorneys

At least one pillar of the mainstream media establishment is working itself into a rage over recent news from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

After learning about religious liberty law training recently provided to attorneys at Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department, The New York Times published a piece containing unfounded accusations about the program’s content, according to a report from the Washington Examiner.

Unfounded claims of discriminatory intent

According to the Times, the training sessions at the DOJ “prompted concern among some career lawyers that they were being educated on ways to blunt civil rights protections for gay and transgender people.”

But the article is conspicuously thin on specifics about those supposedly alarmed “career lawyers.”

As the Examiner noted, one of the very few sources cited in the article is Vanita Gupta, the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, who is quoted making blanket statements about Barr’s motivations.

“In speeches and statements, [Barr] says that civil society is being undermined by a move away from religiosity,” Gupta told the Times. “He wants to use civil rights statutes and the DOJ to redeem what he views as the corrupted soul of America.”

The Times piece also contained virtually no concrete allegations as to precisely how the content of the religious liberty training sessions could have possibly impaired the right of gay or transgender Americans, but merely referenced nebulous emails and messages supposedly reviewed by the article’s author as a means to support its inflammatory premise, the Examiner reported.

Grossly inaccurate portrayal

The Times also reported that “lawyers who worked at the Justice Department during the past three administrations could not recall a similar week of training sessions on any topic that were open to all employees, regardless of which section they worked in” — an apparent attempt to paint the training as some kind of all-encompassing indoctrination scheme unique to Barr’s tenure at the helm of the DOJ.

This piece of “reporting,” however, stands in contrast to the work done by Nicole Russell of the Washington Examiner on the same topic, who wrote that a senior DOJ official explained to her what the training entailed and why it was important.

“The Department of Justice routinely provides training to personnel to help them stay current on the law and to promote best practices — that’s part of what makes us the best law firm in the world,” Russell reported. “The training is the Department’s latest initiative in its ongoing campaign to bolster efforts to protect the First Amendment rights of all Americans.”

Standard media operating procedure

This seems to be a case in which a mainstream media news outlet is bent on perpetuating an alarmist narrative simply because the DOJ is taking action to keep its attorneys apprised of issues impacting one of our nation’s foundational concepts — namely, the free exercise of religion.

The American people, however, are likely extremely grateful that many of the Justice Department’s lawyers — not to mention the man leading it — are consistently working hard to safeguard the constitutional liberties that have been under relentless attack in recent years.

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