Trump expected to sign executive order on religious liberty on Thursday

Posted May 04, 2017

President Trump will reportedly sign an executive order on religious liberty during Thursday's National Day of Prayer, according to two senior administration officials.

If enacted, the religious freedom executive order is a major piece of payback to evangelical Christians and other religious conservatives from Trump, alongside the appointment of the conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

The legislation leaked in February meant to allow people and businesses to register their religious objections to nearly any situation - in a move that campaigners argued would allow people to discriminate against LGBT people and claim religious grounds for doing so.

One conservative who saw the current draft told Politico, "the language is very, very strong". ACLU deputy legal director Louise Melling released a statement saying, "If President Trump signs an executive order that attempts to provide a license to discriminate against women or LGBTQ people, we will see him in court". Vice President Mike Pence, a Religious Right favorite, who as governor of IN signed a state law sanctioning religious discrimination, has been pushing behind the scenes for the executive order. It would allow for discrimination against the LGBTQ community and others, so long as a sincerely held religious belief can be cited as the motivation.

The White House has been contacted for comment.

Leftwing groups condemned the draft executive order as overtly discriminatory.

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"The Attorney General shall establish with the Department of Justice a Section or working group that will ensure that the religious freedom of persons and religious organizations is protected throughout the United States, and shall investigate and, if necessary, take or coordinate appropriate action under applicable religious freedom laws", read the previous draft. However, one official warned that the plan hasn't yet been finalized and that the draft order is still being fine tuned.

Warbelow fears the order will allow groups that receive federal funding like foster care, homeless shelters and hospice programs, to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans.

"It has always been established that our Constitution protects the free exercise of religion, but those protections do not create the right to cause harm to others", he said.

On the same day news broke that Trump would sign the order, Faith in Public Life published a full-page letter in Politico signed by more than 1,300 faith leaders urging Trump to reject the measure.

So far, the administration has closely guarded details of the re-written executive order.