Church leaders view religious freedom order as positive step

06 May, 2017, 01:40 | Author: Michele Stevens

However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a solid history of opposing LGBT rights.

The new executive order does give some religious groups, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, one of the things they had hoped for from Trump - allowing religious entities to stop providing contraception in their employee health care plans if they have religious objections.

"The order portends, but does not yet do harm to the provision of reproductive health services", he added.

"IF YOU'RE GOING TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, THEN YOU HAVE TO ABIDE BY THE DECISIONS OF THE PEOPLE " The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa said today - "President Trump's executive order is unsafe andill advised for the government'sinterest and for houses ofworship".

"This is going to backfire on Trump", said the Reverend Jennifer Butler, chief executive of progressive policy group Faith in Public Life.

On Capitol Hill, Minnesota Senator Al Franken told ABC 6 News if religious institutions want tax breaks, they shouldn't be able to engage in politics where they worship.

It is one of the election promises that Trump could not accomplish in the first 100 days of his administration.

Although violations of the Johnson Amendment could lead to the loss of tax-exempt status, the IRS has rarely enforced the rule.

Religious leaders prayed in the Rose Garden just before Trump signed the executive order.

However, another conservative religious liberty group that has been involved in the battles over transgender student rights, the Alliance Defending Freedom, expressed disappointment that the executive order did not go further.

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Lambda Legal announced on Tuesday that it would sue Trump if an explicitly anti-LGBT order were signed.

"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore", he said.

The White House has not yet released the full text of the order, but it appears to fall short of what religious conservatives expected from Trump, who won overwhelming support from evangelicals by promising to "protect Christianity" and religious freedom. In his remarks before the signing Thursday (May 4), the president said: "Under my administration, free speech does not end at the steps of a cathedral or a synagogue or any other house of worship".

The order is meant to cripple the Johnson Amendment, which bans tax-exempt religious organizations from political activities, speech, and fundraising.

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However, only Congress has the authority to repeal the Johnson amendment.

Several prominent leaders of the religious left noted that neither Republican nor Democratic policy stances lined up neatly with any major religion's teaching and said the move could fracture congregations by encouraging leaders to take sides. And it would have instructed the entire federal government to respect federal statutes and Supreme Court decisions ensuring that the free exercise of religion applies to all people of all faiths in all places, and at all times. "You certainly don't surrender your right to participate in the political process because you're a faith-based organization".

The ACLU initially signaled it would challenge the executive order in court, stating earlier Thursday that the organization intends "to file suit today". It takes legislation to enact real change, McKoon said.

Dr Jerry Johnson of National Religious Broadcasters said much was missing from the order, but it should be praised as an "emergency brake on the government's movement toward coercion and discrimination".

The Johnson amendment, named for then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, was put into force in 1954.


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