One Year Later: The Impact of President Trump's Executive Order Protecting Religious LibertyBy Travis Weber Director, Center for Religious Liberty
May 4th of this year marks the one-year anniversary of President Trump issuing his Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty—an achievement that has had a tangible impact on the protection and priority of religious freedom throughout the executive branch over the past twelve months. In addition to policy changes at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and better policy outcomes at the Department of Defense (DOD), its impact includes specific policy changes at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) which accomplished the following:
- Enabled at least 44 schools that provide an education for over 148,000 students to continue operating, and
- Protected entities which are part of umbrella groups annually providing approximately 13.7 million people with health care and other social services.
While more remains to be done, the executive order significantly advanced religious freedom and should be celebrated on its one-year anniversary. As we mark this occasion, let us look back and observe how the executive order led to increased religious freedom protections for all.
 These figures were compiled using the number of schools listed as plaintiffs challenging the HHS mandate in court, see “HHS Case Database,” Becket, accessed April 27, 2018, https://www.becketlaw.org/research-central/hhs-info-central/hhs-case database/?fwp_database_profit=718922d7c06d05c1e7c4894ca554492d, and computing their total enrollment. It is therefore a conservative estimate, as there are schools which did not challenge the mandate.
 This figure is the sum of the 8.7 million people served by Catholic Charities USA—the umbrella group for the many local Catholic Charities which joined the HHS mandate litigation—in 2014 alone (see “2014 Catholic Charities Annual Survey – Summary,” Catholic Charities USA, https://files.catholiccharitiesusa.org/files/publications/2014-Annual-Survey_Summary.pdf?mtime=20150828143835), and the 5 million patients admitted by Catholic health care providers—many of whom joined the HHS mandate litigation—during a one year period. See “Catholic Health Care in the United States,” Catholic Health Association, January 2016, https://www.chausa.org/docs/default-source/general-files/cha_mini_profile2016.pdf?sfvrsn=0.