Thursday, June 15, 2017

President Trump Comments on His Actions, Goals for Religious Liberty

Written by Don Byrd

Via the Washington Post’s Valerie Straus, President Trump last week spoke to the Faith and Freedom Coalition, where he commented on several issues surrounding religious liberty. 

In case you missed it, here are those excerpts from his remarks, taken from the White House transcript:

[I]n a really beautiful ceremony at the White House, on the National Day of Prayer, I signed, as I promised I would, a new executive action to protect religious liberty in America, including protecting the rights of groups like yours — the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Thank you.  Stand up.  The Little Sisters of the Poor.  (Applause.) 

That executive order also followed through on my campaign promises to so many of you:  to stop the Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights.  (Applause.)  It was my promise.  This executive order directs the IRS not to unfairly target churches and religious organizations for political speech.  So the people that you most respect can now feel free to speak to you, like my friends sitting right over here.  I can now hear them and they’re unimpeded.  So I just want to congratulate everybody in this room because that was a big deal, and it was a very important thing for me to do for you.  And we’re not finished yet, believe me.  We’re not finished yet.  So thank you very much.  (Applause.) 

No federal worker should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.  (Applause.)  These are the people we want to hear from. . . . 

As long as I’m President, no one is going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what is in your heart and from preaching — and really, this is so important — from the bottom of my heart — from preaching from the people that you most want to hear and that you so respect.  So we have taken a very, very strong position, and you picked a winner.  (Applause.)   

So we want our pastors speaking out.  We want their voices in our public discourse.  And we want our children to know the blessings of God.  (Applause.)  Schools should not be a place that drive out faith and religion, but that should welcome faith and religion with wide, open, beautiful arms.  (Applause.)  Faith inspires us to be better, to be stronger, to be more caring and giving, and more determined to act in selfless and courageous defense of what is good and what is right.  It is time to put a stop to the attacks on religion.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  

We will end the discrimination against people of faith.  Our government will once again celebrate and protect religious freedom.

Straus’s report focuses on those statements the President made toward the end of that excerpt about religion in schools. She quotes church-state expert Charles Haynes, who responded to the President’s complaint that schools are driving out religion by noting that public schools “now have more student religious expression than at any time in at least 100 years.”

You can read Haynes’ entire response – which is fantastic – here.



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