Donald Trump just issued his executive order on religious liberty with evangelical luminaries from all across the fruited plain in attendance. The order is designed to neutralize the Johnson Amendment, which on paper at least threatens churches which engage in political activity, and to prevent organizations, like The Little Sisters of the Poor, from being forced to provide abortifacients for their employees.
These are essentially hollow promises on the president’s part. No church has ever been deprived of its tax exempt status using the Johnson Amendment. In fact, conservative evangelicals have for years tried to goad the IRS into going after them for preaching political sermons, to no avail. African-American churches have utterly ignored the restrictions of the Johnson Amendment for decades, for which we can be grateful, since that’s where the civil rights movement came from. Their pulpits were used to galvanize and mobilize parishioners to engage in direct political action, with nary a peep from the IRS. So the Johnson Amendment is a toothless tiger.
With regard to the contraceptive battle, that battle has already been fought and won in the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court, in the Hobby Lobby case, has already ruled that businesses cannot be forced to violate their deeply held moral and religious principles to provide abortion-causing pills to their employees. So it was a nice gesture on the president’s part, but essentially meaningless.
Meanwhile, the gravest concern is aroused by what the president did not say. The draft of this executive order that was leaked to the liberal media in February contained robust protections for Christians engaged in business from being compelled by government to violate their own values and consciences in showdowns with the radical, vitriolic, and virulently aggressive LGBT lobby.
Our recent history is rife with Christian bakers being fined $135,000 for refusing to bow the knee to the god of Sodom, Christian florists being sued for everything they own, and Christian photographers subject to stiff fines for declining to participate in same-sex ceremonies. Christian adoption agencies specializing in hard-to-place children have been shut down. We’ve seen story after story of Christian students being expelled from counseling programs for not meekly submitting to the gay agenda, and professors being terminated or denied tenure for the same reason.
This morning’s empty and symbolic action on the president’s part most likely betrays the hidden hand of the president’s uber-liberal daughter, Ivanka, who likely leaked the February draft to a liberal rag (The Nation) in order to stir up enough intense outrage from the LGBT community to strangle this baby in the cradle. It worked. Ivanka wore out her red pencil eviscerating the original order, leaving us with today’s order which has very nice language but is virtually entirely lacking in substance.
The president’s words today were fine, and encouraging as far as they went. The problem with the president’s speech in the Rose Garden is what he did not say. There was no word of comfort, encouragement, or support for those who have been victimized by the relentless persecution of the homosexual lobby. They apparently will have to wait for another day, waiting without any assurance that this new administration will stand with them and protect their constitutional liberties. The best grade we can give the president for today’s remarks is an incomplete.