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Trump Upholds Pledge to Defend Religious Freedom, Issues Guidance for Federal Agencies

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order back in May, he vowed to “vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom.” And while that is a good and needed sentiment, it left many issues unresolved.

But there’s great news!

Today, the Trump Administration issued guidance that helps ensure the federal government will not discriminate against people and organizations of faith for peacefully living consistently with their beliefs. This is an important step forward in restoring our nation's first liberty, ensuring that the government will not target Americans or exclude them from participation in public programs because of their faith and conscience.

This guidance goes a long way to back up President Trump’s claim that preserving and protecting religious liberty would be his “first priority” if elected.

This guidance is consistent with the 7-2 victory Alliance Defending Freedom won at the Supreme Court on behalf of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri. In that case, Trinity Lutheran preschool was denied participation in a state grant program for resurfacing its playground simply because it is a church. With its ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed that people and organizations of faith cannot be treated worse than everyone else.

The guidance is much needed as it seems many federal agencies fail to sufficiently respect the protections of religious freedom in our Constitution and laws.

A situation involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) illustrates the problem. A USDA employee threatened Don Vander Boon, who owns West Michigan Beef Company, with closure simply because Don left an article on the breakroom table explaining the Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. He had placed the article there among other articles that were celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision redefining marriage.

It’s situations like this that make it clear religious freedom needs protecting. We must be a country that allows people and organizations of faith to peacefully live and work according to their faith.

The Trump Administration also amended the HHS mandate today, widening the exemption for organizations with religious and moral objections to providing their employees with abortion pills.

“All Americans should have the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their faith without fear of government punishment. The guidance that the Trump administration issued today helps protect that First Amendment freedom,” said ADF President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris in a statement. “As CEO of the largest religious freedom legal organization in the world, I commend the president for taking another step to honor his campaign promise to make religious liberty his ‘first priority’ by directing the Department of Justice to issue this guidance, which simply directs the federal government to adhere to its legal and constitutional obligation to respect existing religious freedom protections.”

We are thankful that the President is living up to his promise to defend religious freedom and his oath to uphold the Constitution. Where these freedoms are threatened, Alliance Defending Freedom will defend those who simply wish to live and work peacefully according to their beliefs.

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Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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