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Trump Signs Religious Liberty Executive Order
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Summary: President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will allow churches to participate in politics without fear of losing their tax-exempt status. 

Today is National Day of Prayer, and to commiserate, President Donald Trump has signed an executive order which will restore religious liberty for devout organizations and individuals.


“We are giving our churches their voices back,” Trump said in the Rose Garden at the National Day of Prayer event, according to NBC.

Our 45th President said that he signed the order to protect religious people and organizations, who have claimed to face discrimination for their beliefs. For instance, after the federal mandate that gay marriage was legal around the country, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis protested by turning away gay couples who were seeking marriage licenses. She was jailed for refusing to do her job, and in 2016, it was reported that she ended up obeying the law, even though it was against her Christian beliefs.

“Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation,” Trump said. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

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Besides Davis, there are numerous other instances where Christian individuals or organizations have said that they were forced to do things against their faith or punished for following their faith. However, critics say that these people end up discriminating against minority groups such as gays and lesbians.

Trump’s order focuses on two things–allowing religious groups to participate in politics without losing their tax-exempt status and allowing them to not be punished for violating aspects of the Affordable Care Act, which was voted to be repealed and replaced today.

According to NBC, Trump’s executive order called “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” relaxes enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which forbids tax-exempt organizations such as churches from engaging in political speech and activities.  The Johnson Amendment was overall rarely enforced as most churches do not endorse political candidates, but the executive order means that churches will no longer have to fear reprimand from the IRS if they do choose to participate in the future.

The amendment will also relieve organizations of having to provide contraception as part of their health care policies. For instance, Hobby Lobby was sued for not providing free birth control to its employees, and the case eventually went to the Supreme Court in 2014. Although the court ended up ruling in Hobby Lobby’s favor, women’s groups continued to fight the decision.

Before today’s signing, an earlier version of the order was met with a wave of controversy from LGBTQ activists who said that it had the potential to be discriminatory to them and other minority groups. To address their concern, the White House revised the order, and Thursday’s draft did not include language that could be deemed discriminatory.

While conservative groups such as the Little Sisters of the Poor applauded Trump’s commitment to protecting Christians and other faiths, civil rights groups such threatened to sue. For example, on Wednesday, the ACLU tweeted, “And if President Trump signs an order that will allow religion to be used as an excuse to discriminate, we will sue.”

According to the BBC, there are also some religious groups that oppose Trump’s executive order. More than 1,300 clergy members put out a full-page ad in Politico, warning that “religious liberty” could be used as a weapon against LGBTQ individuals, women, and children in foster care.

However, there are also a number of religious groups who have publicly supported Trump and his new order.

“The first freedom in the Bill of Rights is religious freedom. America was born on the foundation of religious freedom and it is one of our most cherished liberties. There could be no better day to sign an executive order on religious freedom than the National Day of Prayer,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, told Fox News. 

What do you think of Trump’s latest executive order? Let us know in the comments below.


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