10/07/2017 / By JD Heyes
No doubt he’s going to be criticized as some sort of “bigot” but President Donald J. Trump has nevertheless kept yet another major campaign promise in issuing new religious liberty protections.
As reported by Breitbart News, the president issued Executive Order 13798, which not only adds additional protections for religious liberty (which should not be necessary given the First Amendment’s freedom of religion protections), but also in protecting the unborn. On Friday, his administration began implementing it.
In his order, he declared that the policy of the U.S. government moving forward regarding religious liberties under the Constitution and federal law, which is the first time any administration has actually done so.
“The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government,” said the order in Section 1.
Further explaining the First Amendment’s enshrinement of religious liberty, Section 1 continued, explaining that “Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government.”
On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued guidance regarding Section 4 of the order, which provides: “In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal Law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.” (Related: Trump successful in cutting Obama’s refugee levels in half; taking in more Christians than Muslims.)
The order contains 20 specific protections, including:
— Freedom of religion is a fundamental right that is extremely important to Americans and is expressly protected under federal statutes and the Constitution;
— Freely exercising one’s religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s personal religious beliefs;
— Religious freedoms extend both to persons and organizations;
— Americans do not surrender their freedom of religion when they participate in the marketplace, the public square, or when they interact with government;
— Government cannot restrict any acts or abstentions because of a person’s displayed beliefs;
— Government cannot target any individuals or entities for special disabilities based on religious convictions;
— Government is not permitted to target religious entities or individuals via selective, arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement of neutral, generally applicable laws;
— Of course, government also many not favor or disfavor any specific religion or religious groups;
— Government also may not interfere with a religious organization’s autonomy.
Breitbart News further reported:
The attorney general’s memorandum includes protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), including (#14) how demanding its legal standard is in protecting religious liberty, (#12) that it does not allow the federal government “to second-guess the reasonableness of a religious belief,” and (#13) RFRA is violated when the government “substantially pressures” a religious person or group “to modify such observance or practice.”
In addition to the Department of Justice’s implementations of Trump’s order, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new pro-life protections contained in Section 3; it repeals the “abortion mandate” contained in Obamacare. As the Heritage Foundation notes, the mandate entangles “taxpayer funds in abortion coverage offered on the exchanges” and forces “many Americans to pay an abortion surcharge with private dollars.” In other words, even pro-life Americans who don’t agree with abortion at all still had to subsidize it; but the new HHS order does away with that requirement.
What Trump’s order also means is that if, say, Christian bakers who do not agree with homosexual marriage because their faith doesn’t recognize it won’t be able to be prosecuted (persecuted?) by Left-wing state attorneys general and be financially ruined.
Trump continues to deliver on key campaign pledges that he himself can affect; where he has fallen short is when lawmakers in his own party have refused to keep their campaign pledges.