Notes from AG Jeff Sessions Roundtable Meeting with PA Faith Leadership Representatives
Report by: Jane Richey, Local Coordinator, VCTPP
Sept. 22, 2017
Harrisburg – Federal Building
There were 11 representatives that met with Attorney General, Jeff Sessions and his Deputy and many secret service people. Originally, I had heard the discussion may be focused on the opioid crisis. However, He met with law enforcement representatives from the State prior to the Faith group to discuss this topic. He indicated that the Faith Leadership could ask anything we wanted and that he was there to listen. I sensed he was not at liberty to discuss many details of current cases and was limited in areas of secure information. But he did seem to listen and at several points directed his staff to make a note for follow up. I took these notes in shorthand and found out just how rusty I was. So, to the best I could decipher my notes, here were some of the concerns brought to him.
PA Pro-Life Federation Representative:
Q: Regarding the documented video proof revealed by Life Action and Center for Medical Progress of Planned Parenthood’s blatant illegal activities – what is being done to pursue charges against PPH?
A: Not at liberty to discuss current cases but was aware and very concerned and studying state regulations and their effects on each case.
PA Pastors Network – Sam Rohrer
Q: Islamic issue concern and the way CAIR and Muslim Brotherhood have imbedded themselves in our gov’t and society. Are they going to be deemed a terrorist organization?
A: “We are going to win this (immigration issue) before the SCOTUS!” Persons immigrating should affirm this country’s heritage and laws. Found it terrible that a judge on a small island in the Pacific could hold the entire country hostage by restricting the President of the US on his legal right to protect our citizens.
Pastor Dave Bizer
Q: Concerned about religious freedom to preach truth from the pulpit and not have a “gag” order placed upon Pastors
A: President Trump has directed the DOJ to draft policy that affirms religious freedom. “There are far too many lawsuits.” “What’s wrong with a prayer at a football game?” “Ridiculous!” “We should respect one another.” “People can disagree but should not be able to prohibit expression.” “Thomas Jefferson made it clear in the First Amendment. Pursuit of truth is essential in debating issues.”
Pastor Denny Malady, Beaver Springs– church owns 3 radio stations in PA
Q: He is responsible for lining up pastors to pray before legislature in PA Capital. Is that going to become illegal?
A: Many legislators in many states open with prayer and nothing is being done about it. He knows of no law prohibiting this.
Victor Joseph – works with Teen Challenge and many ethnic Christian groups
Q: What can Teen Challenge do to partner with gov’t to help in the opioid crisis?
A: AG met with law enforcement prior to the roundtable meeting and gathered stats and suggestions from them. AG is alarmed at this increased threat to our citizens. Reviewing progress made in “80’s” with education programs that dropped drug and tobacco usage in ½ . Our messaging to young people is crucial. “Can’t get hooked if you don’t start.”
Pastor Isaac, Hamburg PA – works with CEF and Teen Challenge
Q: Expressed concern about opioid issue and what is being done.
A: Not in agreement with moving forward on legalization of marijuana. Considers it a gateway drug.
Diane Gramley, AFA of PA
Q: Expressed alarm that Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has published a list of what they consider to be “hate groups” and are putting many pro-family organizations such as AFA, FRC, etc. in danger. Are their lists being used in the training provided to federal law enforcement and what is being done to reign this group in?
A: AG instructed Deputy to check into whether this group’s training materials are being used. Have not heard that this is being done currently.
Jane Richey, Venango County Tea Party Patriots
Introduced myself as Jane Richey and AG commented that his granddaughter’s name was Jane Richey _(didn’t catch the last name)________. Interesting aside…..
Q: Given the mistrust of media reports, I wanted to hear from the AG’s lips himself what the status was on the investigation into officials who oversaw the IRS sabotage of Tea Party and other civic groups before the 2012 elections, such as Lois Lerner and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. I stated that I thought the people want justice on this issue.
A: Decision was made not to reopen the investigation because officials require “proof beyond a reasonable doubt that government employees intentionally discriminated against an applicant for a tax-exempt status based on viewpoint.” The AG felt there was not enough evidence to pursue and this was the best decision at this time and sees no reason to rescind this decision. (I respectfully disagree!)
Gwenn Alexander of Action – Political Activist group
Q: Concerned with the increasing intolerance against God in our country.
A: Agree that it is cause for great concern that people don’t feel safe to express their faith. Had no answers for this.
2 Daystar Center for Spiritual Recovery Ministry reps – works with a rehab ministry to drug addicts serving 36 counties in 24 states.
Q: Concerned about the burdensome costs associated with proposed additional certifications being required for small rehabs to continue their work. What is being done to focus on the real problems (i.e. big pharma and reasonable pursuit of criminals rather than first time users.)
A: Confirmed that law enforcement focus is and will be on cracking down on hard criminals, such as dealers. Cited several recent instances where doctors had become “dealers in white coats”. Several busts have recently been made on these types of crimes using RICO laws. Found that people were traveling across state lines to obtain their drugs from dealing doctors. Agreed that big pharma needs to be held accountable to help fund solutions to the problems created by their products and their distribution. Reiterated that the heart of solving the problem is to stop people from starting on drugs in the first place.
AG thanked all who participated for their love of country and their service to their communities.