Trump's Executive Order Continues The Assault On Religious Freedom

In this edited blog post, AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett lays out two of the three key provisions in President Trump's "religious freedom" executive order. To read analysis on all three provisions on our Wall of Separation blog, click here.

Yesterday, during his National Day of Prayer ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, President Donald Trump continued his assault on religious freedom by signing an executive order. In a speech that reads more like a fake viral email than a presidential address, Donald Trump substituted showmanship for sincerity: While claiming to protect religious liberty, he trampled it.

Attacking Women’s Health

This executive order is aimed at attacking women’s access to birth control, which is essential to women’s health and equality. The president believes that bosses should be allowed to use religion as an excuse to deny their employees insurance coverage for contraception. The executive order itself didn’t overturn the Affordable Care Act regulation protections that ensure most employer insurance plans cover contraception with no co-pay, but it has started the process for the Trump administration to do just that. And it was no surprise that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price immediately issued a statement taking up the order’s call for him to “reexamine” these protections, which clearly means “revoke.”

Denying women access to contraception in the name of religion is discrimination, plain and simple.

Encouraging The Government To Use Religion To Discriminate

The final part of the executive order similarly makes no immediate changes, but lays the groundwork for sweeping rule changes across the government. It calls on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “issue guidance” for all federal agencies on the scope of religious freedom protections in federal law. We know that many in the Trump administration, including Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence, want to sanction the use of religion as an excuse to roll back equality for LGBTQ people and women. And so we’re rightly concerned that the rule changes that result in discrimination against LGBTQ people and women, but also against religious minorities, nontheists and almost anyone else—all in the name of religion. The danger is in what lies ahead. We won’t let the Trump administration advance discrimination and betray religious freedom to score political points.

Yesterday brought bad news for religious freedom with the divisive National Day of Prayer and Trump’s dangerous executive order. But we’re ready to fight in court, on the Hill and anywhere that the Constitution is being trampled. 

Follow Maggie Garrett online at @maggiefgarrett