Trump’s religious liberty EO: Not enough
From the desk of Bob Vander Plaats
On Feb. 9, I joined with dozens of my colleagues in the Family Policy Alliance in signing a letter urging President Trump to issue an executive order defending religious liberty.
Though the U.S. Constitution protects your freedom of religion, government has been undermining that right for years – from threatening your church’s tax-exempt status if your pastor speaks about an election, to forcing Catholic nuns to pay for birth-control pills, to fining Christian business owners hundreds of thousands unless they participate in a same-sex wedding.
Therefore, our letter called upon President Trump to “make religious freedom great again” by reaffirming your religious liberties. Christians in America should be able to live and express their faith in the church, in the public square, and in the marketplace without the fear of government punishment.
Today, President Trump signed an executive order that declares his administration will defend religious liberty and directs the executive branch to do the same … at least as long as Trump is president.
Yes, that helps. But it doesn’t change some of our nation’s most troubling laws, like the 1954 Johnson Amendment, or Obamacare mandates, or state laws that punish Christian business owners.
And most troubling, the executive order could easily be overturned by the next president with the stroke of a pen.
So we thank President Trump for what he’s done so far … but there’s a lot of work left to do.
We need the president to lead Congress in making real changes to defend religious liberty. We need state and local leaders who will do the same.
We need leaders whose actions go beyond temporary and symbolic gestures to actually championing change.
And we need people like you, who will not be pacified by today’s executive order, but will step up to the plate and demand our government holds sacred the very first right enshrined in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
You may remember how here in Iowa, the Christian owners of the Gortz Haus were forced to choose between violating their conscience or closing their doors. The threat of government action forced them out of business. Their rights should have been protected. And today’s executive order wouldn’t have protected them.
Bob Vander Plaats is president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER