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Barr Warns Cardinal Dolan of ‘Militant Secular Effort’ to Curtail Religious Freedom

Attorney General William Barr in Washington, D.C., December 10, 2019 (Al Drago/Reuters)

Attorney General William Barr warned New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan of “an organized, militant secular effort” to suppress religion in “the marketplace of ideas” in an interview Wednesday.

“The problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on non-religious people,” Barr told Dolan on his SiriusXM radio show Conversation with Cardinal Dolan. “It’s the opposite — it’s that militant secularists are trying to impose their values on religious people, and they’re not accommodating the freedom of religion of people of faith.”

Citingd Democrats’ efforts to coerce religious employers to violate their conscience rights as well as their ongoing effort to expand abortion access, Barr has used his platform as attorney general to speak out about what he sees as encroachments on religious liberty. He drew a torrent of criticism in October over a speech at Notre Dame Law School in which he said religiously convicted Americans face “social, educational, and professional ostracism.”

The attorney general explained Wednesday that the Founders believed in “the centrality of religion to the health of American democracy,” and that a loss of popular religiosity was a danger to the republic.

“We believe in the separation of church and state,” Barr stated. “But what permits a limited government and minimal command and control of the population — and allows people to have freedom of choice in their lives — and trust in the people is the fact that they are a people that are capable of disciplining themselves according to moral values.”

Barr also discussed his relationship with President Trump in the interview, and told Dolan how it compared to his time as attorney general in George H.W. Bush’s administration.

“They’re very different,” he explained. “I love both men — H.W., was more low-key. He had a very strong interest in foreign policy in which he really focuses attention on. The interesting thing about President Trump is that he is very hands on, he’ll bring people in to explain things to him, he’ll reach down and bring the experts in, and he listens.”

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