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Trump Signed Executive Order Protecting Religious Liberty

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During yesterday’s annual National Day of Prayer commemoration at the White House, President Trump signed a new executive order establishing a new faith-based office called the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. According to the President, this office would focus on protecting religious freedom and ensuring that "the faith-based and community organizations that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the federal government."

"Prayer has always been at the center of the American life. America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer," said Mr. Trump at the Rose Garden ceremony. 

In addition to making recommendations to the administration, the office will also inform the administration of "any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under the law."

Members of Trump’s unofficial evangelical advisory council, a loose umbrella of faith advisers with close access to the president, celebrated the news. “I could not be more proud to stand with President Trump as he continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with communities of faith,” evangelical preacher Paula White told Religion News Service, “This order is a historic action, strengthening the relationship between faith and government in it.”

The initiative will be led by a newly appointed White House adviser to the group and will be supported by various faith leaders from outside the federal government.

This new executive order also aims to ensure faith-based organizations have "equal access to government funding and equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs."

At last year’s National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed a similar executive order that allows the IRS to opt not to enforce the Johnson Amendment.  The Johnson Amendment prohibits nonprofits such as churches and charities from becoming engaged in political campaigns.  The order, which was based on one of Mr. Trump's campaign promises, also provided regulatory relief from Obamacare requirements such as the requirement that organizations provide contraception care, which was heavily debated in the Little Sisters of the Poor case.

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