Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty: Executive Order

On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.”

The Executive Order expressed the intent “to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom” (Section 1).

With respect to religious and political speech, all executive departments and agencies “shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech” (Sec. 2).

With respect to conscience protection and the preventive-care mandate, the Secretaries of the Treasury, of Labor, and of Health and Human Services “shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the prevention-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code” (Sec. 3).

The full text of the Executive Order can be found at: www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/04/presidential-executive-order-promoting-free-speech-and-religious-liberty.

Responding to the Executive Order, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “We welcome a decision to provide a broad religious exemption to the HHS mandate, but will have to review the details of any regulatory proposals.” The Executive Order “begins the process of alleviating the serious burden of the HHS mandate.”

Cardinal DiNardo noted the broad range of ways that people of faith “have experienced pressing restrictions on religious freedom from both the federal and state governments that receive federal funding.” The Cardinal asserted, “We will continue to advocate for permanent relief from Congress on issues of critical importance to people of faith.”

For Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement, see: www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-076.cfm.