President Trump Signs Executive Order on Religious Liberty
Eric Lendrum, Politics Contributor
Fulfilling yet another campaign promise, President Trump today signed an executive order granting more free speech rights and tax relief to religious organizations in the United States.
Having previously campaigned on reducing government regulations on the political speech allowed to religious organizations, President Trump signed the “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” EO in the Rose Garden today.
According to NBC news, the order tackles two major methods of restricting religious organizations’ rights to political speech. First, it relaxes the IRS’ ability to enforce the Johnson Amendment, a law which states that tax-exempt religious organizations are not allowed to engage in political speech or politically-charged events. President Trump had repeatedly promised to repeal the Johnson Amendment upon being elected, but since that requires a repeal effort to pass through Congress first, this executive order is the most he can do to reduce that law’s power for now.
The second area addressed by the order is the Obamacare mandate on businesses being forced to provide contraception to employees, even if this violates their religious beliefs. (The Obamacare mandate itself may soon enough no longer be an issue as well, as the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on an amended version of the Republican repeal-and-replace effort, the American Health Care Act.)
Fittingly enough, two nuns from the Little Sisters of the Poor - an organization targeted by this very same Obamacare requirement - were present for the President’s signing ceremony. The order received praise from religious leaders, including pastor Mark Burns - a longtime Trump ally - and President Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Religious leaders also prayed in the Rose Garden shortly before the signing.
During the ceremony, President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to the First Amendment right to freedom of religion: “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore. And we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. Never, ever.”
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