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WASHINGTON, DC – This week (May 4th) marks one year since President Trump signed an executive order protecting religious liberty – an order which has led to multiple federal agencies rolling out religious freedom protections. The case of Col. Leland Bohannon, an Air Force Colonel suspended last year for seeking a religious accommodation to exempt him from having to sign a "certificate of spouse appreciation" for an airman in a same-sex marriage, is one case positively impacted by the order highlighted in Family Research Council’s analysis released earlier today. The analysis finds the executive order enabled charities and other entities to provide up to 13.7 million people with health care and other social services. The order has enabled at least 44 schools that provide an education for more than 148,000 students to continue operating.
Family Research Council Director of the Center for Religious Liberty, Travis Weber, stated in the analysis:
“Air Force Colonel Leland Bohannon was disciplined last year after declining to sign a certificate of appreciation for the same-sex spouse of an airman under his command (though he ensured it was still signed—and by a higher-ranking officer) ... The Air Force Review Boards Agency, operating under the Secretary of the Air Force, reversed this finding and ruled in favor of Colonel Bohannon, concluding that he had the right to not be forced to violate his conscience regarding same-sex marriage.
“In ruling for Bohannon, the Agency cited President Trump’s executive order… The Agency properly followed RFRA, which requires an examination of whether the objective desired by the person asking that religious freedom be overridden can still be obtained while the religious beliefs are also honored,” concluded Weber.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:
“Thanks to President Trump, over the last year we have witnessed nothing less than a revival of legal protections for religious freedom in America. In tracking the impact of the executive order, our analysis finds that the president has helped hundreds of charities and schools that provide services for up to 14 million Americans. Under the Obama administration, charities, family owned businesses and honest, hard-working people faced crushing fines for living according to their faith. With the government threatening their very existence, these organizations successfully rallied the American people to their side -- including many of the nearly 14 million Americans that they serve.
“It’s becoming clear that the domestic policies of our federal government have gone beyond an armistice agreement to dismantling the Obama administration anti-religious expression war machine and replacing it with policies and personnel committed to protecting and promoting our First Freedom.
“In fact, the federal agency used by Obama to launch this attack has turned 180 degrees creating a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division under the Office for Civil Rights to restore federal enforcement of our nation’s laws that protect the fundamental and unalienable rights of conscience and religious freedom. The military, which the Obama administration turned into a battlefield over religious freedom, is also starting to reverse course.
“Leaders abroad are also observing this restoration of religious freedom here in America. Just this past weekend, I met privately again with top Jordanian officials to discuss both the strains on their country due to the humanitarian crisis of the Syrian refugees and how a greater emphasis on religious freedom may aid in solving the crisis by attracting more religious NGOs to the country. Among the Muslim majority nations in the Middle East, Jordan has respected the freedom of worship in its government policies. But more can be done to protect religious expression. America can encourage countries to move in that direction by our own example.
“The Obama administration replaced the promotion and protection of religious freedom with the strong-arming of countries to adopt their liberal social agendas. This rejection of religious freedom as a priority resulted in rampant persecution and genocide. Look for the Trump administration's policies protecting religious freedom both domestically and abroad to lead to increased international respect and protection of this fundamental human right,” concluded Perkins.
Click here to download “One Year Later: The Impact of President Trump's Executive Order Protecting Religious Liberty.”