DOJ official garners backlash for labeling Alliance Defending Freedom ‘hate group’ on social media

The entrance signage for the United States Department of Justice Building in Washington D.C. The Department of Justice, the U.S. law enforcement and administration of Justice government agency. | Getty Images

A Justice Department official has been accused of violating an official policy by publicly labeling Alliance Defending Freedom, a prominent religious freedom advocacy organization, as a “hate group” in a social media post.

Last month, Jason Weida, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, said in a Linkedin post that he had been “honored” to be part of an Alliance Defending Freedom event.

Eric P. Bruskin, assistant director of the commercial litigation branch in the DOJ’s Civil Division, who formerly worked for the American Civil Liberties Union, a progressive organization, commented on the post, saying: “Jason, this is a hate group. You’re speaking at a conference for a hate group. Are these the beliefs you hold? If so, then it’s time we end our professional association.” 

Bruskin garnered backlash, with a couple of commenters arguing that Bruskin had violated DOJ's employee policy when it came to how federal government employees should use social media.

According to the DOJ employee manual, under the category of “Personal Use of Social Media,” department employees “should not make comments that can be perceived as showing prejudice based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other protected basis.”

“Department employees are required at all times to adhere to certain government-wide standards of conduct that apply to online communications, regardless of whether the employees are at work, off duty, or using government equipment,” added the policy.

ADF has won several religious freedom cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, many cases defending the rights of Christian conservatives to uphold their beliefs in the public square. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-Left advocacy group that has garnered multiple controversies in recent years, classifies the ADF and ADF International as a “hate group.” 

“ADF’s longstanding antipathy toward LGBTQ people has become public through its work on lawsuits, various statements its leaders have made and materials it has offered on its website over the years,” the SPLC claims.

For its part, the ADF has refuted the SPLC's accusation that it's a hate group, noting that the SPLC frequently uses the term to “silence dissent” and to bully religious conservatives.

“If the price of holding our traditional religious beliefs and speaking on them in public discourse is to earn a place on the ‘Hate Map,’ then we’ll view SPLC’s slander as a badge of honor,” stated the ADF.

“But the people who use such tactics should know they won’t work forever. They will not succeed in trampling conscience or stopping civil discourse by name calling. That’s the tactic of the bully on the playground.” 

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