Religious Leaders Weigh-in on Latest Executive Order

"For too long, the federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith...", the president said, associating himself with the persecution complex that afflicts some on the religious right.

One thing that was not included was a provision allowing religious organizations to avoid serving and hiring members of the LGBTQ community.

"The ACLU stands ready to sue the Trump administration and in the event that this order triggers any official government action at all, we will see Trump in court, again".

This executive order directs the Internal Revenue Service not to unfairly target churches and religious organisations for political speech.

"Today my administration is leading by example as we take historic steps to protect religious liberty in the United States of America", the president said Thursday as he signed the order.

Planned Parenthood opposed the order, calling it an attack on women's reproductive health.

President Trump issued an executive order on religious liberty.

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"We'd certainly like to keep the rights that we presently have, or at least the rights that we did have up until recently when we were challenged", says The Catholic League's Bill Donahue.

Flanked by religious leaders from various denominations, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday pledging to "vigorously promote religious liberty" and allow faith-based organizations greater participation in politics without risking their tax-exempt status. "And once again this administration has taken another step down a risky slippery slope, undermining safeguards against discrimination and the intrusion of partisan politics into our faith communities and other aspects of civic life created to serve the needs of all of the American public".

An adjustment to the Internal Revenue Code - which was adjusted in 1986 but continued to include Johnson Amendment - would require an act of Congress, but Trump can influence how it is enforced.

Specifically, the executive order protects religious groups from a restriction imposed by the IRS that prohibits tax-exempt organizations, like churches and other religious institutions, from political speech and involvement. The key word here would be "consider".

"The directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare does cue up a potential future battle, but as of now, the status quo has not changed", Romero added in the statement.

The executive order makes no mention of any such provision, much to the dismay of conservative religious leaders, who believe the president has ignored the wishes of his most fervent supporters. "And the executive order - while it could be stronger, could be broader - the clear indication is that it's the first executive order of its kind".

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