Attorney General William Barr warned Wednesday that militant secularism is suppressing religious liberty in the marketplace of ideas.
In an interview with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan on his SiriusXM radio show, Mr. Barr said religious freedom is essential to maintaining limited government.
“To me, the problem today is not that religious people are trying to impose their views on non-religious people. 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,” he said.
Mr. Barr, a devout Catholic, has repeatedly decried declining religious values and the loss of morality, which he has linked to many of society’s ills.
In October, Mr. Barr gave a fiery speech at Notre Dame University blasting militant secularism. He argued secularists have attacked religion and those who hold religious beliefs face “social, educational and professional ostracism.”
While the speech was praised by faith leaders, others panned the speech as an endorsement of religious institutions.
The attorney general said in Wednesday’s interview that the founding fathers believed religion was central to “the health of American democracy.”
“The reason [the founding fathers] felt they could grant so much freedom in the Constitution and only provide for limited government was because they felt that religion was there and the people were religious people who could largely govern themselves,” he said.
“We believe in the separation of church and state, but what permits a limited government and minimal command and control of the population and allow 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,” he continued.
Mr. Barr, who served as attorney general under Presidents Trump and George H. W. Bush, told Cardinal Dolan the two men were “very different.”
“I love both men — H.W. was more low-key. He had a very strong interest in foreign policy which he really focused 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.”