Many conservatives are unhappy with President Donald Trump's recently signed “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty”, because they say it doesn't go far enough to address the real concerns about threats to religious liberty.
But others are a bit more optimistic. For instance, Mike Berry, Senior Counsel and Director of Military Affairs, said it "is the best news we’ve received from the White House in eight years,” and President and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters Jerry Johnson said, “President Trump deserves praise for applying an emergency brake on the government’s movement toward coercion and discrimination.”
So what’s missing from the President’s order? Some say the president's order merely addresses the Johnson Amendment, which basically only pertains to churches' limitations on political involvement. But the concern is that, as bad as the Johnson Amendment has been, it has not been our biggest problem.
In fact, there was an original draft of the religious liberties executive order leaked back in February that addressed much more of what many people are hoping for in terms of protecting religious freedom. According to Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, the original draft, if adopted, “would have finally and fully protected Americans from having to violate their consciences under the Obamacare abortifacient and contraception mandate. It would have protected the ability of all Americans to buy health care that doesn’t cover or subsidize abortion. And it would have protected all Americans who believe that marriage is the union of husband and wife from federal government penalties or coercion.”
Those are the greater issues, issues which affect the average citizen, yet they’re not specifically addressed in the president’s new order.
But there’s still something positive here. Simply put, Trump’s order is a whole lot better than Hillary Clinton would have done, and at the very least, it's encouraging to hear the President of the United States say, “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore. And we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. Never, ever.”
He also stated, “Under my administration, free speech does not end at the steps of a cathedral or a synagogue or any other house of worship. We are giving our churches their voices back and we are giving them back in the highest form.”
Yes, the executive order is flawed, but it’s still positive that our president used his voice for this cause and displays the administration’s commitment to religious liberty in general.
But regardless of what President Trump does or does not do, the most important thing is that we remember our religious liberties come from God, not government, so we need to be careful about making government the sole decision maker on our religious freedoms. Yes we need the Constitutional protection of our liberties. Of course. But currently, the problem of intolerance toward religion in America is a cultural problem, not a political one, and the farther we get from God, the more reliant on government we will be for who decides how free we are, because it will largely come down to the personal opinion of the person in charge. Look at the attacks on liberty under Obama, for instance. For now, we may be safe with Trump, but if our liberties are left to the whim of an executive order, that is a concern that can't be overlooked.