President Trump signed an Executive Order regarding religious freedom today. Here is my summation of the act, as far as I understand it. Click here for the full text of the Order.
Section One in my words: The Constitution says we have the freedom to be religious without fear of federal interference. This order lets people know that the Executive branch is on board with protecting people’s religious freedom as stated in the Constitution.
Section Two in my words: The government agencies in charge of taxation will not be allowed to target or penalize religious groups for expressing political opinions.
Section Three in my words: Religious organizations who conscientiously object to various practices will be allowed to conscientiously object without government penalty.
Section Four in my words: The Attorney General will guide the procedures for keeping religious liberty.
Section Five in my words: Something about how if one part is violated the other parts will still stand? Maybe? I don’t know. Too lawyerly of language for me here.
Section Six in my words: Basically this is already the law, this is just an attempt to reassure people this will be enforced. It makes no new laws, nor does it do violence to existing laws.
In summary, I don’t think this makes much difference to anything. I think this was originally created for situations such as the baker who didn’t want to make a cake for a gay wedding to be allowed to refrain from so doing without government penalty, which is fine.
Religious liberty has always been a part of American government and this merely restates what has existed. Previous presidents, including Obama and W. Bush, have played around with religious stuff that often looked like interference with religious practice. President Trump is attempting to score points with religious types by passing an executive order that does nothing really except sound nice. He will now be able to tell religious voters he’s “fighting for you.”
There is a chance I am completely misunderstanding this order, but this is my take. It’s one more piece of unnecessary legislation that will be propped up as either 1) Evidence that the Antichrist is coming, or 2) Evidence that Christians are about to take over the world. Neither is true.
UPDATE two hours later:
To confirm my suspicions, the ACLU, which threatened to sue over President Trump’s Religious Freedom Order, has decided not to. Here’s why, in their words:
“Today’s executive order signing was 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.”
In other words this executive order does nothing except sound nice.