Catholic League President Bill Donohue said Friday that the Trump administration’s public policy reforms regarding religious liberty are “compelling and much needed.”
“President Trump has proven once again that he is the most religion-friendly president in the modern era,” Donohue said in a statement.
On January 16, the U.S. Department of Education announced a series of new regulations ensuring that student religious groups have the same access to school facilities as secular groups and that religiously affiliated groups will be equally eligible for federal grants. It also will eliminate policies that prevent “constitutionally protected prayer in public schools.”
In his statement, Mr. Donohue said that the Trump administration has provided an important corrective to the “draconian directives” promulgated by the Obama administration, which “all but neutered the free exercise of religion in public policy programs.”
“Trump has reversed this condition, awarding religious liberty the kind of breathing room it deserves, both morally and legally,” Donohue said.
In the administration’s important reforms, religious institutions will no longer be relegated to “second-class status,” Donohue said, “and their autonomy will be protected.”
On the same day the reforms were announced, President Trump officially proclaimed “Religious Freedom Day” to commemorate “the foundational link between freedom and faith in our country.”
“From its opening pages, the story of America has been rooted in the truth that all men and women are endowed with the right to follow their conscience, worship freely, and live in accordance with their convictions,” the president said, adding that he wished to “reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding the religious liberty of all Americans.”
Religious freedom in America is often referred to as our “first freedom,” Trump said, and it was a “driving force behind some of the earliest defining moments of our American identity.”
In October 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that defending religious freedom is “central to the Trump administration’s foreign policy,” as well as being “an essential part of who we are as Americans.”
“Religious freedom appears first among the rights enumerated in our Constitution. Where religious freedom flourishes, there is greater stability and more economic opportunity,” Pompeo said.