When President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order last week, he claimed it would protect religious freedom. The order instead tramples it. Here’s why: it weaken the protections for houses of worship and may open the door to discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, women, religious minorities and others under the guise of religious freedom.
Religious freedom is absolutely fundamental and guarantees us all the right to believe or not as we see fit. But it doesn’t give anyone the right to use religion as an excuse to discriminate or harm others.
That is why, yesterday, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill to rescind the executive order. As Sen. Feinstein explained, the bill would reject “the administration’s disturbing attempt to use religious liberty to undermine the rights of others.”
It’s no surprise they introduced a bill to nullify Trump’s dangerous executive order. Here are the three troubling aspects of the order:
- It’s aimed at attacking women’s access to birth control, which is vital to women’s health and equality. The executive order starts the process to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage rules and let employers use religion as an excuse to refuse to cover birth control in their employees’ health insurance.
- It’s intended to limit the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the tax code that protects the integrity of non-profit organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse political candidates.
- It lays the groundwork for sweeping rule changes across the government that may well result in discrimination against LGBTQ people and women, but also against religious minorities, non-theists, and almost anyone else, all under the guise of religious freedom.
This bill, on the other hand, promotes fairness, equality and religious freedom. We commend Sens. Feinstein, Murray, Wyden and the others who cosponsored it. Americans United stands with them and will continue to fight against the use of religion to discriminate.