President Trump gathered religious leaders in the Rose Garden today for a National Day of Prayer ceremony. In attendance were representatives from several denominations, including a large group of nuns from the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The highlight of the ceremony was the signing of an executive order easing IRS restrictions on religious non-profits (i.e., churches) and providing protections for religious speech. The order also protects religious groups from having to pay for abortions as part of their Obamacare coverage.
President Trump proclaimed:
“We are giving our churches their voices back.”
Conservatives, particularly social conservatives, are praising Trump’s actions. LifeNews.com reports Family Research Council President Tony Perkins had this to say:
“The President’s executive order is a clear reflection of his campaign promise to protect the religious freedoms of Americans. President Trump is taking a significant first step to defending religious liberty. In working with the Trump administration, it is clear that they both recognize and understand the dangers of the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and are therefore committed to undoing those policies and restoring true religious freedom,” he said. “The freedom to live out faith in all areas of society without government punishment or intimidation is what has made America great.”
It is a welcome change for conservatives, who endured eight years of the Obama administration eroding religious liberties and penalizing businesses and organizations for adhering to their religious beliefs. The Little Sisters of the Poor were a particular target of the previous administration; the sisters took them to court to protest an HHS mandate that required them to provide contraceptive coverage.
The Washington Times reports that President Trump told the sisters, “With this executive order, we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty.”