Trump’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty Was Thankfully Scaled Down

Today, President Trump signed an executive order on “religious liberty” — a buzz-phrase that is code for “make everyone comply with my belief system.”  In it, Trump calls for less IRS enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches from politicking from the pulpit, not that they’ve been very successful in enforcing it anyway.  Since the law was enacted in 1954, only one organization has lost its tax-exempt status based on it, despite thousands of reported violations.  But now at least the IRS has an excuse not to do their jobs.

Also referenced in the executive order is a religion-based exemption to employer health care plans, paving the way for employers to deny contraception coverage to their employees based on the business owner’s belief system.  Because that seems fair.

Keep in mind though, the executive order is basically a bedazzled suggestion to governing entities.  After all, only Congress can repeal the Johnson Amendment, and he certainly can’t revise the Affordable Care Act on his own.  Hell, he can’t even spell “precedent” on his own.


What wasn’t mentioned in the executive order, but was included in a previously leaked version, is a reference to businesses denying services based on religious affiliation — gay wedding cakes and all that.  We all know Pastor-in-Chief Mike Pence would have loved for that to be included, but I’m guessing it was removed based on reactions from watchdog agencies like the ACLU, who already notified the Twitterverse they were prepared to sue the White House.

It’s not clear yet if this order will end up in court or not, since on its face, it really hasn’t changed anything. It’s just a bunch of bluster and a feather in Trump’s cap — an effort to keep those Evangelicals on his side.  I wouldn’t doubt that it’s also an effort to raise his poll numbers, since he unabashedly cares so much about his personal ratings.

Anyway, the executive order is good news and bad news, depending on how you look at it, but in the end, any government endorsement of religion is unacceptable… you know, because of that pesky Constitution and all.


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Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

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5 thoughts on “Trump’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty Was Thankfully Scaled Down

  1. Just as a hypothetical, if this law were passed, would it mean we could, for example, refuse to hire Christians because of our sincerely held religious beliefs?

    1. They would probably object on the grounds that we don’t have any sincerely held “religious” beliefs. See also “conscientious objector status”.

      1. I don’t know, I have sincerely held beliefs about religion, and the practice thereof. (<– Legal Word!)

  2. Does this mean that in the world of His Bigliness an Executive Order could be interpreted as a Bigly Request?

  3. So Trump can check off a “win” to his base. Despite the fact that it does so little, the ACLU isn’t even bothering with suing.

    Of course, the Trumpster Trash will be all over this like trump just saved america from impending doom, but you know…

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