March 02, 2017
How great is the threat to religious liberty? Just ask Aaron and Melissa Klein. The parents of five were before the Oregon Court of Appeals today with their family's livelihood on the line all for the right to live and work according to their faith. For three long years, the couple -- who've became the brave face of America's religious liberty clash -- has fought the charges of "discrimination" for turning down an order for a same-sex wedding cake. Staring down a $135,000 fine for exercising their beliefs, the couple is doing everything they can to hold their life together. But even sued, harassed, vandalized, the Kleins haven't blinked, even in the face of the P.C. police. "To be told they're going to force me to convey a message other than what I want to convey -- it flies in the face of the Constitution," Aaron explained. "It's a violation of my conscience. It's a violation of my religious freedom. It's horrible to see your own government doing this to you."
Unfortunately, the Kleins are just one of the families who aren't only being persecuted -- but prosecuted -- for holding biblical views. At its heart, all Christians are asking for is the same accommodation for their views that liberals already enjoy. It's no wonder these threats to religious freedom are of great concern to leaders across the conservative spectrum.
That concern was front and center in a letter to President Trump this week from the Council for National Policy (CNP). If you're unfamiliar with the group, CNP is a membership organization made up of business and policy leaders who focus on fiscal, social, and foreign policy issues. Although the membership has a broad policy focus there's strong consensus that mitigating the threat to our First Freedom is a priority. After eight years of President Obama, CNP -- like the rest of America -- is anxious to turn the page on almost a decade of faith-based harassment and persecution.
That's why, this week, the largely behind-the-scenes coalition, which I've led since 2015, took the unusual step of openly calling on Donald Trump to lift the dark clouds of religious hostility created by Barack Obama. That includes issuing an executive order that would defend the rights the Constitution gave us: to live and work according to our faith. Nearly 150 members of CNP signed the letter asking the White House to act before more Americans are crushed under the weight of the last president's intolerance. Together with Attorney General Edwin Meese, Morton Blackwell, Kelly Shackelford, Becky Norton Dunlop, Dr. James Dobson, Penny Nance, and other familiar faces, we praised the president for the steps he's already taken in his young administration to uphold our First Freedoms.
"We are writing to ask that you continue these efforts to defend religious freedom by issuing an executive order protecting the practical exercise of religious freedom. For the last eight years, Americans of all backgrounds have suffered the loss of their religious freedoms because of destructive Obama-era policies. We commend you for beginning to reverse that devastating trend." After keeping his word on so many other issues, CNP is asking that President Trump build on that reputation of promise-keeping by addressing a problem that he's already acknowledged. After all, it was Donald Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast who said, "[O]ur Republic was formed on the basis that freedom is not a gift from government, but that freedom is a gift from God."
Right now, that gift has not only been abused -- but stolen by members of the radical Left. Using examples of everyone from Little Sisters of the Poor to the West Michigan Beef Company, the signers explain that these are real-life stories of persecution right here in America. "These Christians -- and many like them -- have either been punished by the government for their religious beliefs or are about to suffer under Obama era anti-religious regulations," CNP writes. "They need protections that you can grant through an executive order to prevent federal discrimination against them for acting in accordance with their beliefs. We urge you to take action to ensure their freedom to believe and live out those beliefs is protected from government punishment."
You can add your voice to CNP's and 30,000 other Americans who are asking President Trump to protect religious liberty by signing our petition here.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.