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Civil Rights

Trump’s religious freedom order and the ACLU

By May 19, 2017April 5th, 2024No Comments

President Donald Trump signed a religious freedom executive order recently that had civil rights groups vehemently preparing to file lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the new law.

But that was before the American Civil Liberties Union got the see the text of the order.

Lucky for President Trump and the civil rights groups that were watching, the order did not pave the way for discrimination against the LGBT community, despite a leaked copy of the order showing several added protections for people who want to discriminate against the following:

  • Same-sex marriage
  • Abortion
  • Transgender people
  • Sex outside of marriage

What did the order really accomplish?

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, there was no reason to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration because the executive order was nothing more than “an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.”

“After careful review of the order’s text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process,” American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a prepared statement. “The order portends but does not yet do harm to the provision of reproductive health services.”

What the order did do was:

  • direct the IRS not to punish churches and other religious nonprofits that choose to participate in political activity
  • Churches or groups that endorse a political candidate can still be punished.

Churches and other tax-exempt religious groups and nonprofits are barred from endorsing or opposing candidates thanks to the Johnson Amendment of 1954.

As CNN points out, pastors are already allowed to give political speeches. In fact, they do so regularly.

Trump said before the order was signed that he wanted to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment.

“President Trump’s prior assertion that he wished to ‘totally destroy’ the Johnson Amendment with this order has proven to be a textbook case of ‘fake news,’” Romero said. “What President Trump did today was merely provide a faux sop to religious conservatives and kick the can down the road on religious exemptions on reproductive health care services.”

The ACLU and other civil rights groups said they will continue to monitor the effects of the executive order and take swift action if the government interprets the order and takes action to discriminate against people on the grounds of religious freedom.

Have you or someone you love been the target of discrimination? If so, you need an experienced civil rights attorney to help. Contact the office of Jacqui Ford today.