FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 4, 2017
Religious Institute Decries Executive Order on Religious Freedom
BRIDGEPORT, CT—The Religious Institute released the following statement in response to the executive order signed today by President Donald Trump:
“As an organization dedicated to sexual, gender, and reproductive justice in faith communities and society, the Religious Institute decries President Trump’s executive order on religious freedom. This order does nothing to promote true religious freedom. Instead, it privileges the religious views of one group of people.
“The order makes it easier for employers to claim a religious exemption to providing insurance coverage for certain healthcare services, like contraception and abortion. This expanded interpretation of religious freedom subjects the fundamental rights of vulnerable and minority groups to the scrutiny of their neighbors’ religious beliefs. A person’s healthcare coverage should not be determined by the religious beliefs of their employer.
“This is not what our faith traditions teach. Our faith traditions teach us to care for those who are most vulnerable. They teach us that every person has inherent dignity and worth. They teach us to treat others as we wish to be treated. By privileging under the law one limited religious view of sexuality, this executive order violates the religious freedom of millions of people who hold contrary views, and harms people who need healthcare that some employers will choose to prohibit. This distortion of religious freedom also will have troubling ramifications on the rights of queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, gay, lesbian, and bisexual people.
“In addition, this executive order attempts to loosen restrictions on partisan political speech from religious leaders and houses of worship. Religious leaders are already permitted to address political issues of concern to their communities, but are not permitted to endorse particular candidates for political office. Eroding this barrier is a clear violation of the tradition of separation of church and state and brings divisive partisan politics into faith communities.
“This executive order assaults reproductive rights and will cause harm in our communities. As people of faith, we will not allow religious beliefs to be used as a justification for discrimination. We decry the way ‘religious freedom’—a core principle in our democracy—has been distorted to deny basic rights and protections to others.
“On this National Day of Prayer, we pray for a society that embodies sexual, gender, and reproductive justice. We pray for moral leadership in government. We pray that discrimination in all forms will come to an end.”
The Religious Institute is a nonprofit, multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society. More than 8,500 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 50 faith traditions are part of the Religious Institute’s national religious leaders network.