It’s been nearly three months since President Donald Trump issued his executive order on religious freedom and faced criticism from some religious conservatives for its limited scope.
“The religious liberty executive order is meaningless. No substantive protections for conscience. A betrayal,” Robert George, a professor of law and politics at Princeton University, tweeted at the time.
The order, signed on May 4, promised to ease restrictions on churches’ political activism and prevent religiously affiliated organizations that oppose birth control from being forced to provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans. Many observers described it as neutralizing threats that were no longer a big deal.
“This order appears to be largely a symbolic act, voicing concern for religious liberty but offering nothing to advance it,” said Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in a statement.
However, most critiques overlooked what may become the most powerful part of the order: its call-to-action for Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Trump instructed Sessions to analyze federal agencies’ relationship to religious freedom law, exploring whether government officials need to do more to protect people of faith.
“No Americans should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith,” Trump said as he signed the order, according to the Deseret News.
President Donald Trump’s executive order on religious freedom, signed May 4, may be a bigger deal than observers first thought.
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