Executive Order Promotes Religious Freedom

May 4, 2017

President Trump signed an executive order today that promotes religious liberty throughout the federal agencies in general and in certain specific areas.

The executive order declares that it is the policy of the Administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty, directs the IRS to exercise maximum enforcement of discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment, and provides regulatory relief for religious objectors to Obamacare’s burdensome preventive services mandate.

The Johnson Amendment, named for then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas and enacted into law in 1954, restricts tax-exempt organizations, including churches and religious organizations, from endorsing or opposing candidates for elected office. The executive order will provide some relief by directing the IRS to relax its enforcement of the provision.

The executive order will also protect non-profit and religious organizations from the ObamaCare mandate that forced them to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs and devices at no cost to the employees. For example, Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns dedicated to serving the elderly and poor, and other religious ministries, have been forced to offer contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs and devices. This executive order will provide some relief to these religious groups.

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