October 06, 2017
President Trump's promise keeping streak continues! At last year's Values Voter Summit, then presidential candidate Donald Trump pledged to the crowd that religious liberty would be "cherished, protected, defended, like you've never seen before. Believe me." On Inauguration Day, President Trump set to work on fulfilling that promise -- with a big step taken on May 4th when he signed an executive order directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue guidance ensuring that federal government agencies respect religious freedom.
This morning, that guidance was issued and another concrete step was taken toward undoing the anti-faith policies of the Obama administration. While the Obama administration quarantined religious beliefs as if they are a plague -- the Trump administration is restoring our First Freedom to where it's belonged since the founding of our country. Federal agencies are on notice: you will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe, but the free exercise of religion. The guidance provides 20 principles of religious liberty and makes clear that they apply to federal employees, contractors, and citizens who interact with government agencies. The DOJ emphasizes that religious liberty protections are for organizations and corporations, not just individuals; and also notes that religious employers have the right to hire "only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the employers' religious precepts."
No longer will religious organizations fear losing a federal grant or contract because of the organization's "hiring exemptions or attributes of its religious character." And most importantly, the guidance recognizes that "Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government." This includes members of our military, who, under the Obama administration, have been systematically silenced and even purged. Men and women like Chaplain Wes Modder (U.S. Navy-Ret.) and Monifa Sterling, who stared down the ends of their careers for their deeply-held beliefs, can finally come out of hiding and live out their faith openly. Don Vander Boon will no longer live under the threat of having his meat packing plant shut down because meat inspectors don't like his views on marriage. Churches destroyed by the recent hurricanes will no longer be discriminated against by FEMA.
You can help expand the impact of today's announcement by spreading the word to those who work for or interact with federal government agencies. To aid the Trump administration's efforts in vigorously protecting religious liberty, we are launching a web hotline for those who believe that they have suffered discrimination at the hands of federal agencies based on their religious beliefs. Please share this webpage with your friends, family and on your favorite social media pages. After 8 years of relentless assault on the First Amendment, we can be thankful that we have a president who respects the Constitution and fulfills his promises. Please join me in signing this thank you letter to President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing appreciation for their efforts to protect religious freedom.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.