Trump Signs Controversial ‘Religious Liberty’ EO

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from MSNBC,

President Donald Trump on Thursday made good on a promise to allow religious organizations greater freedom in political speech.

“Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation,” Trump said in the Rose Garden at a National Day of Prayer event with religious leaders and White House staff. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

The president declared his administration would be “leading by example” on religious liberty in the United States.

“We are giving our churches their voices back,” Trump said.

The executive order, called “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” also gives “regulatory relief” to companies that object to an Obamacare mandate for contraception in health care. That builds on the 2014 Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, which found that the Affordable Care Act mandate that certain corporations must provide female employees with no-cost access to contraception was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

While an earlier draft of the religious liberty order reportedly would have let federal contractors discriminate against LGBT employees based on faith beliefs, Thursday’s version did not include such provisions.

Conservative religious groups applauded the move.

“The open season on Christians and other people of faith is coming to a close in America and we look forward to assisting the Trump administration in fully restoring America’s First Freedom,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement.

Civil liberty groups criticized the order with several vowing to sue.

“Plain and simple: President Trump’s executive order will hurt women,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement. “And the Center for Reproductive Rights is ready to fight back in court.”

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