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President Trump's Executive Order Promotes Religious Liberty

JUNE 19, 2017

I wish to commend the President of the United States, Donald Trump, for the executive order that he signed on May 4 affirming the foundational principle of religious freedom in the United States.  I believe that religious freedom is a God-given right that affirms the human dignity of every person and is essential to a healthy society and a strong democracy.

I was particularly grateful to see the President acknowledge that religious employers should be able to offer health care plans that are consistent with their religious beliefs.  In recent months, a number of Christian colleges and universities challenged the abortifacient mandate in court and have had their claims affirmed by the Supreme Court through its ruling in the Little Sisters of the Poor case.  This is a significant victory for faith-based organizations affirming that the law respects their religious beliefs and convictions. 

The Trump administration is already demonstrating support for religious freedom in ways that were not evident with the Obama administration.  President Obama strongly supported pending legislation that would have amended the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The legislation would have included "sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation."  To have passed the Equity Act would have functionally equated those who don't agree with it with racists and would have labeled them as perpetrators of moral bigotry.  

While the President did leave open the possibility of future administrative action on the religious liberty, I believe that ultimately the principles of religious freedom are far too important to be left to administrative action which can ultimately be rescinded by a subsequent administration.  Churches, religious colleges and universities, mission organizations, and parachurch groups contribute greatly to the fabric of our society through worship, character development, spiritual formation, education, service, and enrichment of culture.  I pray that Congress will act to protect these contributions by passing legislation that will ensures religious freedom in the United States in the future.

Larry J. McKinney
Higher Education Consultant
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