Religious Leaders Weigh-in on Latest Executive Order

Nick Sanchez
May 17, 2017

Metcalf-Armstrong said although the order stops short allowing groups and businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community- the overall vagueness of the executive order could be risky.

A spokesperson for the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa told KCCI, "President Trump's executive order is risky and ill-advised for the government's interest and for houses of worship".

The president signed the "promoting free speech and religious liberty" order in the Rose Garden during a National Day of Prayer ceremony with religious leaders. "We are giving our churches their voices back". While some applaud the executive order as a move toward protecting religious liberty, more than 1,000 clergy leaders signed a statement arguing that it opens the door to discrimination.

Trump can not fully lift the restrictions by presidential fiat, and his action on Thursday is not likely to fully satisfy those seeking the full revocation of the amendment.

But it does not provide what many religious groups were hoping for and what many secular groups feared: There is no exemption from anti-discrimination laws for those who object to LGBT issues on moral or religious grounds. It allows churches and other religious and charitable organizations to carry out political action without worrying about losing their tax-exempt status. 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.

"I just don't see it, how it changes anything in particular and I think sometime a lot of these executive orders are symbolic rather than substantive", said Young. The Reform Movement condemns President Trump's executive order on religious freedom issues in the strongest possible terms.

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.

Another section of the order provides "regulatory relief" for religious organizations that have objections to the Obamacare mandate, which requires employers to pay for contraceptives and abortifacient drugs in their healthcare plans. Robert George, a prominent conservative intellectual, called the order "meaningless". He then orders that all Federal agencies will "to the greatest extent practical" respect and protect the "freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech". "We'd certainly like to keep the rights that we presently have, or at least the rights that we did have up until recently when we were challenged", says The Catholic League's Bill Donahue.

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