Under Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, and Trump's cadre of white nationalists and their hangers-on, the Justice Department's civil rights division has been turned into exactly what you would expect it to be used for under a white nationalist-minded government. The historic role of the department is to protect the civil rights of minorities and groups targeted by institutional and casual prejudice. Those efforts are being curbed in favor of others.
But under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the focus has shifted to people of faith, police officers and local government officials who maintain they have been trampled by the federal government. The department has supported state voting laws that could wind up removing thousands of people from voter rolls. And it has pulled back on robust oversight of police departments found to have violated the rights of citizens in their jurisdictions.
That the Republican idea of "civil rights" is that it should mostly be police officers and government officials who have them is unsurprising, perhaps, but let's stop right here, because the Times has committed a grave error in their reporting—and one itself premised on the exact sort of prejudice that animates the conservative saboteurs currently gutting the department.
The focus has not shifted to "people of faith." The focus has shifted to people of one specific sub-religion, who have one identified set of proclaimed values, representing one specific ideology, in a nation where the religious beliefs of all citizens are supposedly premised to be equally valid. This notion that nobody except for a minority of right-leaning Christians can be deemed "people of faith" is, itself, a statement of vicious bigotry.
So why are those bigotries being repeated in the Times? And why is it that, nationwide, the construct "people of faith" is even now so widely used to refer to a particular sub-brand of bigoted zealots of dubious religious values but hyper-aggressive social demands, as if no other "faith" in America merits mention?
The Times here does what the new hard-right Justice Department policies themselves do, ignoring all other "people of faith" whose own religious beliefs conflict, and often dramatically, with the one religious sub-group being catered to. The Justice Department is not protecting people of faith who are Muslim. The Justice Department is not launching new initiatives to protect the Hindu population. The Justice Department is doing not a damn thing to protect those of the Jewish faith. The Justice Department is not even protecting more-liberal interpretations of Christianity, but is instead attempting to curb the rights of those Christians in favor enshrining, by force of law, the ideological beliefs of other Christians.
This is nonsense, and it continues to be offensive. America is filled with a great many people of faith, sans quotes, who do not agree with the narrow, mean, and bigoted notions being "protected" by Jeff Sessions. Who, in fact, find them offensive. There are a great many people of faith who do not believe homosexuality is a "sin," or that sexuality must be regulated by government edict, and who do not believe that their God commands them to be repulsive, sanctimonious assholes to those of different faiths. And not a one of those people counts, either to conservative Republicans or to the papers of record that are forever declaring, casually and without introspection, that the only "people of faith" in America are conservatives or Republicans.
Not all people of faith want the Justice Department gutted in order to protect bigotry. Not all people of faith are forever obsessed with making sure they, as employers or as landlords, are allowed to impose the requirements of their faith on their employees or their tenants. Not all people of faith are prejudiced monsters convinced that God requires them to retaliate against other religions, or that God requires them to impose their particular sub-sub-subsect of faith as the only legitimate one, rewriting laws to explicitly enshrine their beliefs while delegitimizing others.
This, too, is part of the American condition, and one that was most recently peddled via the Moral Majority-era effort to willingly pretend "faith" was a specific partisan sub-set of beliefs and everyone else could, literally, go to hell. The notion that only conservatives who express very specific prejudices represent true "faith" is a bigoted, spiteful and illegitimate notion pushed by religious charlatans and political crooks; is now so embedded in the American psyche that even the Times has no apparent second thoughts about peddling the notion as core conceit of a report on government actions.
It isn't true. Jeff Sessions is waging war against more people of faith than he is supposedly protecting—and those people are being, still, ignored. He is harming many, many more people of faith than he is championing—and yet those others are not even granted the respect of being themselves acknowledged as having faith at all. The phrase you are looking for is not people of faith, but bigots. Jeff Sessions is seeking to advance the agenda of a specific set of bigots against all others; if individual bigots claim religious justification for their acts of prejudice than it is just that, an unproven and unprovable "claim" of justification. Many other Americans of faith—of all faiths—would consider those people to be frauds.
This post has been edited to correct link and references. It was the Times that printed the report in question, not the Post.