Yesterday the Trump administration took another step toward conservative, evangelical theocracy.
Thanks to a sensational news day, this year’s declaration received less attention than last year’s “Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.” But it’s no less concerning, since it continues to embolden and empower those who would weaponize religion against constitutionally recognized protections, pointedly of LGBTQ people and our families.
In a thorough piece covering the announcement, Daily Beast journalist Samantha Allen sets yesterday’s Executive Order in context, and conveys statements from our colleagues at the ACLU and Lambda Legal, who are watching this closely. Allen notes:
Much like the HHS Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, the new White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative does not amount to major new policy—although Trump promised in his remarks Thursday morning that it will “help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country.”
Overlooked in so many treatments of this subject is the fact that 81% of Americans believe the law should not allow companies or other institutions to use religious believes to decided whether to offer a service to some people and not others (per the ACLU, here). Likewise overlooked is the fact that a majority of LGBTQ people nationwide consider themselves active members of a faith community, most of them Christian (13% Evangelical, per the 2014 Pew Religious Landscape Study here). That said, LGBTQ Americans are far more likely to be “unaffiliated” with a faith than other Americans. And too many of us have experienced exclusion from faiths in which we were raised. None of this dampens the vibrancy of the many open and affirming congregations that are home to so many of us.
The application of “religious liberty” arguments thus far have proved that these gestures are designed primarily to provide cover for unconstitutional denials of service (details in the recent report, Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster). As always, we’ll remain alert along with our allies, and confident that our greatest power lies in our love. Please help us amplify the true stories about our families and our faiths. What do you believe in? What does freedom for and freedom from religion mean to you? Send us your words or join the Speakers’ Bureau; contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.