March 21, 2018

President Trump's Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty

17 May 2017, 02:12 | Cassandra Thompson

Trump to sign executive order to'vigorously promote religious liberty'More

Trump to sign executive order to'vigorously promote religious liberty'More

Warbelow said it's unclear how the religious liberty order will be implemented, but said she believed it was a response to stirrings among churches and religious groups that expressed fear over losing their tax-exempt status in relation to the Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling legalizing marriage for same-sex couples.

That being said, 1,300 faith leaders wrote an open letter to Trump opposing the order.

He vowed to defend all faiths, saying the order showed the United States "will never stand for religious discrimination".

Pastor Cowart says nothing will change at his church since he's already been openly speaking every Sunday, but he says the president's executive order is a symbolic step in the direction he's been fighting for. "I think they oughta have a voice but I'm just totally against getting the political arena in the church arena", said Cooper. "Today's executive order will not affect that longstanding policy".

The 1954 Johnson Amendment restricts political activity by nonprofits, and a year ago on the campaign trail, Trump told a meeting of 100 evangelical and conservative Catholic leaders he would abolish that rule, at least inasmuch as it pertains to religious entities. "President Trump's efforts to promote religious freedom are thinly-veiled efforts to unleash his conservative religious base into the political arena while also using religion to discriminate".

A message left with the White House asking what assurances the administration could offer LGBT Americans anxious over the order was not immediately returned Thursday.

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A report from The Atlantic shares that while the final version of the order Trump signed today focused on Trump's instructions that the IRS, "not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization", that overtly endorses political candidates.

An adjustment to the Internal Revenue Code - which was adjusted in 1986 but continued to include Johnson Amendment - would require an act of Congress, but Trump can influence how it is enforced.

The order also will provide relief for religious organizations and businesses from requirements under the Affordable Care Act that employees have access to insurance coverage that includes birth control, the official said. Advocates are concerned that the Department of Justice may interpret the executive order in a manner that prioritizes religious beliefs over the rights of LGBTQ communities.

The intent of the president's order is to weaken enforcement of the so-called Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that restricts all tax-exempt institutions from campaigning for - or against - political candidates.

The third section gives "religious liberty guidance" to all agencies, notifying them about the conscience protections provided under federal law, according to World.

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