Religious liberty still at risk under Trump
It could be worse for believers, but it could also be better
Each week, The World and Everything in It features a “Culture Friday” segment, in which Executive Producer Nick Eicher discusses the latest cultural news with John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Here is a summary of this week’s conversation.
The Department of Justice said this week it wants two more months to pursue negotiations over the birth control and abortion mandate of Obamacare, a religious liberty intrusion that President Donald Trump promised to end on the campaign trail.
The U.S. Supreme Court had sent the case, involving the Little Sisters of the Poor, back to the lower courts in search of a settlement. Religious liberty advocates expected the Trump administration to drop the case entirely, not negotiate further.
The Justice Department said the 60-day extension was just a delay to give the new administration more time to fill key positions and talk to the parties involved.
“They don’t have the team there that they need to handle this, and I think that is the charitable reading of it,” John Stonestreet said this week. “I’d feel a lot better if I really believed that President Trump understood and really was a champion of religious liberty.”
Stonestreet met with Trump during his campaign and said the then-candidate seemed to define religious liberty as having the right to say “Merry Christmas” and repealing the Johnson Amendment that prohibits nonprofit organizations from endorsing candidates.
But the biggest religious liberty concerns of today, Stonestreet said, “have to do with people taking their deeply held convictions into the public square and into their lives, including their public lives as business owners or employees. Those sorts of concerns seemed to then-candidate Trump to be a matter of polling.”
Stonestreet said he does not expect Trump to pass an executive order protecting religious liberty anytime soon, and he urged Christians to continue pushing for religious freedom.
Still, Stonestreet acknowledged, the situation could be much worse.
“Had this election been different, there would be a lot more aggressive posture against religious liberty,” he said.
Listen to “Culture Friday” on the April 28, 2017, edition of The World and Everything in It.
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