WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump will sign an executive order protecting free speech and religious liberty for American religious groups, including the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The White House believes that Trump’s order will fulfill his campaign promise to protect religious liberties and free religious organizations to act according to their faith.
“During the campaign the President specifically promised to repeal the Johnson Amendment and to protect religious organizations that had been persecuted by the Obama Administration, like the Little Sisters of the Poor,” an official told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
The official noted that the Catholic group faces fines of $70 million for noncompliance with a portion of former President Barack Obama’s “Obamacare” system.
The official described the executive order:
First, It declares that it is the policy of the Administration, the Executive Branch, to protect and vigorously promote religious liberties.
Second, It directs the IRS to exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the border of the Johnson amendment, which as you know prevents religious leaders from speaking about politics and candidates from the pulpit. And it provides regulatory relief for religious objectors to Obamacare’s burdensome preventative services mandate, which is a position supported by the Supreme Court decision in [its] Hobby Lobby [decision].
The President’s order will direct that regulatory relief will be provided, but does not detail what that relief will be, said the official, who added that “we need to provide regulatory relief to deal with those outstanding issues that are left over for more than just companies like Hobby Lobby.”
The Trump administration’s Justice Department has been criticized for continuing Obamacare contraception cases against religious organizations, including the Little Sisters of the Poor.
When asked if there was a way to distinguish between religious leaders and radical Imams citing radical Islamic agenda, the official said, “to the extent that you’re violating current laws that have to do with national security then those laws still apply.” The official later stated, “Everything that is legal stays legal, everything that is illegal stays illegal, under our executive order.”
The official continued:
We know the groups that have been investigated by the IRS and we know the groups that have sued the Obama Administration over the preventative services mandate so we know who’s in trouble now and we’re trying to provide relief just like the President promised.
The signing of the executive order is being combined with the National Day of Prayer on May 4.
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