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Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Trump Administration Threatens to Undermine True Religious Freedom
Press Statement

RELEASE: Trump Administration Threatens to Undermine True Religious Freedom

Washington, D.C. — Although the Trump administration has only been in power for a few weeks, the administration’s message on religious liberty is clear: It wants to redefine religious liberty to only protect people who share its vision of faith. This comes at a steep cost to the fundamental American value of religious freedom for all and dangerously marginalizes people of faith who do not share the Trump administration’s views.

A new column released by the Center for American Progress outlines several actions that the Trump administration has already taken that threaten to undermine religious freedom:

  • Institution of a Muslim ban. President Donald Trump’s executive action prohibiting travel to the United States for nationals of seven Muslim-majority nations is, in effect, a Muslim ban. Such a ban is in violation of the core value of religious freedom for all, and people of faith are taking action to demand the Muslim ban be rescinded.
  • Erasure of Jewish victims from Holocaust remembrance. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House released a statement that did not mention Jews. When pressed about this break with previous presidential statements that centered on Jewish victims, three administration officials defended the decision, saying that the statement was meant to be inclusive of all Holocaust victims. Reports later indicated that the White House stopped the State Department from releasing its own statement, which did include mention of Jews’ suffering.
  • Discrimination through sweeping religious exemptions. On February 1, a draft executive order leaked that, if enacted, would leave millions of workers vulnerable to being discriminated against or fired if they do not share the religious or moral convictions of their employer. Furthermore, the government would have no recourse against individuals or organizations using federal dollars and discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people; women who have had abortions; people of faith with differing views; and/or their families, whether in government services, housing, health care, homeless shelters, or virtually all other areas of life.
  • Destruction of the Johnson Amendment. President Trump has pledged to “get rid of and totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which currently prevents charitable organizations such as houses of worship from endorsing or opposing political campaigns while they enjoy tax-exempt status. Revoking or failing to enforce the Johnson Amendment would expose houses of worship to immense political pressure and potential manipulation by political parties and would also create a dark money loophole for political donations.

“Regardless of your religious views or spiritual background, the Trump administration’s actions to curtail the religious freedom of those who do not share the administration’s views should give everyone pause,” said Claire Markham, Associate Director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at CAP and the author of the column. “The concept of religious liberty should never be used to protect the religion of those in power at the expense of everyone else. By narrowly tailoring religious liberty to fit the administration’s own views, the Trump administration is undermining the principle of true religious freedom for all.”

Read the column: The Trump Administration’s Dangerous Attempt to Redefine Religious Liberty by Claire Markham

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For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at [email protected] or 202.478.5328.