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Trump Just Signed The ‘Religious Freedom’ Order. Here’s What It Means, And Who’s Already Suing Him

On Thursday, surrounded by several religious leaders, President Donald Trump signed the highly controversial “religious freedom” order.

"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, according to NBC. "We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore."


The executive order, "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty," relaxes IRS enforcement of a ban, known as the Johnson Amendment, which bars tax-exempt organizations such as churches from political speech and activities. The order also gives relief to companies that object to an Obamacare mandate for contraception in health care, according to NBC. However, as the BBC noted, Trump cannot repeal the law without congressional legislation, so instead, he is directing the IRS to "exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment.”

“No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors,” Trump said to applause, ABC reported. “You are now in a position where you can say what you want to say ... We are giving the churches their voices back.”

However, advocacy groups are promising to fight back. As GOOD reported Wednesday, groups including GLAAD and the National LGBTQ Task Force, were condemning the order before it was even signed.

“If this possible executive order is similar to February’s draft, it would do nothing except give a national license to discriminate, and endanger LGBTQ people and their families,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement prior to the signing. “President Trump is trying to create an America where my children could be turned away if a pediatrician doesn’t accept my wife and me. Nothing could be more un-American.”

And immediately following the signing, the American Civil Liberties Union announced,

“The actions taken today are a broadside to our country’s long standing commitment to the separation of church and state. Whether by executive order or through backroom deals, it’s clear that the Trump administration and congressional leadership are using religion as a wedge to further divide the country and permit discrimination. We intend to file suit today.”

However, even Trump’s usual supporters aren’t fans of the bill, but only because the order doesn’t go far enough, as conservative news outlet The National Review explained in a post, calling the order a failure, “While there is no one single reason why Donald Trump won the presidency, this much I do know: If Evangelical voters had not turned out in mass numbers, he would be sitting in New York right now plotting the comeback of Trump Steaks. It’s time for those Evangelical leaders who jumped on the Trump Train, the ones who are now oh-so-close to that coveted “room where it happens,” to speak with a single, united voice. Tell the president that the nation’s first liberty demands more respect—and more protection—than the dangerous nothingness of this executive order.”

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