Text of executive order on religious liberty

President Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty today.  I would challenge readers to read the actual text before paying attention to the hand-wringing from various pressure groups.  I cannot find anything catastrophic here, and there are a lot of good things in this executive order.

Here is the source of the text.



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By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.

Sec. 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.

Sec. 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.

Sec. 4. Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.

Sec. 5. Severability. If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any individual or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of its other provisions to any other individuals or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

9 thoughts on “Text of executive order on religious liberty

  1. Seems innocuous enough.

    This reverses the trend that had existed, of social activists telling religious objectors they were not allowed to object to (insert hypothetical thing religious objector objected to). As such, there will be turbulence and pressure associated with the reversed trend, as always occurs when a trend reverses.

  2. Apparently the ACLU was going to sue, but decided against it, because the executive order doesn’t actually do anything.

  3. Just about every section except 4 has language to the effect that the order must be consistent with existing law. Section 4 say the Attorney General will issue guidance about what the existing law means. The big problem is Jeff Sessions is Attorney General.

  4. We claim the privilege in worshipping Almighty GOD according to the dictates of our own conscience. And, allow all men the same privilege: to worship how, where or what they may. This is an article of Faith I was taught and raised with. There is a time and place and topic for Speech from the Pulpit. Pray that such privilege is not misused, or intentionally misrepresented as to reflect upon others of differing Faith. GOD is a Jealous GOD. Let’s not test this, by misuse of this new Blessing.

  5. Bill says the executive order doesn’t do anything. Other observers have pointed out that the executive order is much less meaningful than other drafts that were floating around earlier this year. That is true. Other observers have accused Trump of trying to pretend he cares about religious liberty without actually doing anything about it. Other observers have also pointed out that Congress and the Supremes need to take action on this issue as well.

    My take is: surprisingly, this executive order actually falls within the constitutional purview of the president. The executive is not supposed to make law, he is supposed to use existing law to provide guidance to the executive branch. This EO actually does that. So, can we argue, perhaps surprisingly, that Trump is actually following the Constitution? I think the answer is yes. Difficult to believe for a guy who is “literally Hitler,” right?

    In the meantime, the EO isn’t completely useless. It orders the IRS not to harass people based on religious beliefs. It tries to find a useful way to deal with the Johnson Amendment. It reminds other government agencies to respect religious liberty.

    Traditionalists like myself would love a legal decision that makes it clear that state and federal governments cannot force bakers to bake the gay wedding cake and cannot force florists to decorate gay weddings if this violates their religious consciences. On a grander scale, I would like to make sure that religious liberty is protected with regard to our chapels and temples. I would like a long list of other religious conscience protections. This EO does not touch on those issues directly, only peripherally. But given that Trump is actually following the Constitution, I’ll take this EO as a small positive step.

  6. Not sure why an executive order was needed. Nothing new in here that isn’t already part of established law. Seems to be more theater than anything else.

  7. I’d like to see the media reaction when a Muslim baker or photographer gets sued for refusing to provide goods or services for a gay wedding.

    PTC: but since the exec branch has, in at least part, been operating outside of the constitution and established law, this EO may have been needed to get things back on track. It may also provide a basis for discipline action against agencies or fed employees who would otherwise claim “established practices” as a justification for continuing to operate against the law.

  8. My take on this is the permission now given to churches for freedom of political speech, while still keeping their tax exemption.
    I doubt the LDS Church will politicize the pulpit.
    Because churches in our very liberal State have had no qualms with mixing politics and preaching, this EO will make no difference here. Business as usual.

  9. Like many things, God (or the devil) is in the details. Where this goes will depend on executive and judicial appointments and possible Congressional legislation. One can view this as a beginning rather than an end.

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