President Donald Trump marked the National Day of Prayer with the signing of an executive order on religious liberty.
Trump signed the order meant to protect religious liberty at the White House on Thursday in front of evangelicals, Catholics, Jews and others.
"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore," he said.
The order says the government will “protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.” It also directs the IRS to stop enforcing the Johnson Amendment, which forbids churches and other nonprofits from supporting and endorsing candidates. It also protects employers who do not want to provide contraception and abortion-inducing drugs under their insurance plans.
Said Franklin Graham of the executive order: "I’m thankful we have a president who is concerned about religious liberty and isn’t afraid to speak the Name of Jesus Christ."
But David French, a senior writer for the National Review, argues in a column that the executive order is “useless”because executive orders can’t repeal statues, like the Johnson Amendment, or overturn regulations, like the contraception mandate that’s already a law.
“In fact, he should tear it up, not start over, and do the actual real statutory and regulatory work that truly protects religious liberty,” he writes.
“The administration can right now begin the rulemaking process to change the contraception mandate,” he said. “Congress can right now begin the lawmaking process to repeal the Johnson Amendment. Congress can right now work to pass statutes that protect free speech and rights of conscience. That’s the real work of government. Anything else is fluff, a symbol at best.”
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Publication date: May 5, 2017