The recently signed Presidential Executive Order is an encouraging sign that the Federal government is moving away from being a barrier to a greater defense of religious freedom.
On May 3rd President Trump signed an Executive Order to ensure that the faith-based and community organizations have strong advocates in the White House and throughout Federal Government.
The “Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” creates the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative within the Executive Office of the President. The Executive Order will:
*** Provide recommendations on the Administration’s policy agenda affecting faith-based and community programs;
*** Provide recommendations on programs and policies where faith-based and community organizations may partner and/or deliver more effective solutions to poverty;
*** Apprise the Administration of any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under law; and
*** Reduce the burdens on the exercise of free religion.
The Initiative will be led by the newly created position of Advisor to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative (Initiative) and be supported by experts and various community and faith leaders from outside of the Federal Government.
All executive departments and agencies that do not have Centers for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives will designate a liaison to the Initiative.
Conscience and Religious Freedom
The May 3rd Executive Order builds on recent major initiatives in January
*** January 2018, the Justice Department announced a religious liberty update to the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual, raising the profile of religious liberty cases and directing the designation of a Religious Liberty Point of Contact for all U.S. Attorney’s offices.
*** January 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced major policy changes protecting freedom of religion inside and outside of the government:
- Forming a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, providing HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom; and
- Proposing to more vigorously enforce twenty-five existing statutory conscience protections for Americans involved in HHS programs, in order to protect Americans who have religious or moral convictions related to certain health care services.
Prioritizing Religious Freedom
Previous initiatives include:
*** October 2017, the Department of Justice issued twenty principles of religious liberty to guide the Administration’s litigation strategy and protect religious freedom.
*** May 4, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order to greatly enhance religious freedom and freedom of speech:
- Taking action to ensure that religious institutions may freely exercise their First Amendment right to support and advocate for candidates and causes in line with their values; and
- Ensuring that religious Americans and their organizations, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, are not forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs by complying with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate or shutting their doors.
One nation under God
- President Trump has publicly stood with people of faith and with those who advocate for the sanctity of life.
- This is the President’s third public event marking the importance of prayer, including attending the National Prayer Breakfast just two weeks after his inauguration.
- President Trump has declared several days of prayer, including a National Day of Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and for America’s National Response and Recovery Efforts.
- On October 13, 2017, President Trump spoke at the Value Voters Summit.On January 19, 2018, President Trump became the first President to address the March for Life rally live via satellite.
Vice President Mike Pence addressed the March for Life in 2017, becoming the first sitting Vice President to do so in person.
Protecting the Sanctity of Life
The President has been one of the foremost defenders of the sanctity of life in the history of the White House.
President Trump quickly reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, which prevents $9 billion in foreign aid from being used to fund the global abortion industry and its advocates.
President Trump signed H.J. Res 43 into law, which overturned the Obama administration’s midnight regulation prohibiting States from defunding certain abortion facilities as part of their family planning programs.
President Trump’s Administration issued guidance to enforce the requirement that taxpayer dollars not support abortion coverage in Obamacare exchange plans.