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Justice Department Launches Anti-Religious Discrimination Initiative

The meetings will focus on protecting people and places of worship from religion-based hate crimes.
The meetings will focus on protecting people and places of worship from religion-based hate crimes. Photo Credit: United States Department of Justice

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday announced the launch of “Combating Religious Discrimination Today,” a series of community roundtables across the country as part of the new initiative designed to promote religious tolerance, challenge religious discrimination and enhance enforcement of religion-based hate crimes.

The meetings, to be held by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, in partnership with other federal agencies, will focus on protecting people and places of worship from religion-based hate crimes; combating religious discrimination, including bullying, in education and employment; and addressing unlawful barriers that interfere with the construction of places of worship.

The inaugural roundtable was held at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, N.J., and addressed bullying and religious discrimination in schools.

Subsequent roundtables will focus on a variety of related topics, including a discussion in Dallas, Texas, that will center on preventing and prosecuting religion-based hate crimes targeting individuals and houses of worship; a meeting in Birmingham, Ala., that will examine religious discrimination in employment; and a convening in Detroit, Mich., that will address discrimination by local zoning officials against congregants seeking to build places of worship.

The final roundtable will also concentrate on bullying and religious discrimination in schools and will take place in Palo Alto, Calif.

“Protecting the rights of everyone to worship as they choose is fundamental to our way of life,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey said. “Our office has worked with our law enforcement partners to enhance and maintain connections with the many communities of faith that exist in a state as diverse as New Jersey. The discussions that we’re kicking off here today are a natural extension of that work, and I look forward to continuing this important dialogue with all of our partner agencies and the people we represent.”

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