So much for the separation between church and state! President Donald Trump just fulfilled a dangerous promise to the religious right by signing an executive order that allows churches and other tax-exempt organizations to become politically vocal.
Well we can’t say we didn’t see this coming. Early on in his presidency Donald Trump, 70, vowed to gut the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches and other religious groups from speaking and organizing politically. He got a step closer to just that when he signed a three part “religious liberty” executive order on the National Day of Prayer on May 4. His main goal is “that it is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.”
The president cannot repeal the Johnson Amendment without congressional approval, but he can direct the I.R.S. to give the “maximum discretion possible” when enforcing the 1954 law; it’s designed to ban tax-exempt organizations, like churches, from engaging in certain political activity. In other words, he’s going to make it really easy for religious groups — one of his main bases during his successful Oval Office run — to get WAY more involved in politics by telling the I.R.S. to look the other way.
Trump signed the executive order while hosting conservative leaders at the White House for the National Day of Prayer. He promised in a speech prior to the signing that “people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced ever again. Free speech doesn’t end at the steps of a cathedral or synagogue.”
The executive order is also providing so called “regulatory relief” for businesses and religious groups when it comes to providing contraception coverage to female employees as mandated in the 2014 Affordable Care Act. It is somewhat of a toothless order since the Supreme Court already sided with Hobby Lobby when they sued over providing birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. Donald’s mainly just posturing that he’s pro-religion and yet again anti-women’s rights when it comes to obtaining safe and legal birth control.
This was a huge victory for Vice President Mike Pence, 57, a religious evangelical who as steered many of Donald’s domestic policies towards the conservative right. However, it thankfully fell short of what many had expected in the order, which was reportedly supposed to include protections for individuals and businesses with a religious objection to LGBT individuals. That would have paved the way to possible discrimination and a rollback of gay rights.
HollywoodLifers, what do you think about Trump’s latest executive order? Are you in favor of it or against it?