As we kick off the holiday season, it’s easy to take for granted the many things we are thankful for in a country as great as ours. One that is often overlooked is religious freedom. President Trump’s administration has implemented many policies to defend this freedom and protect religious institutions from being forced to do things against their moral code. However, that hasn’t always been the case.
In 2011, the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services mandated that all employers must provide contraceptive services through their insurance plans. Organizations such as Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious non-profit, were outraged at the Obama administration’s disregard for religious values and asked for an exemption from the mandate. Fearing excessive fines that would come along with not complying, Little Sisters of the Poor asked the courts for protection. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Little Sisters of the Poor, allowing religious institutions to follow their moral code when offering health care services.
More recently, President Trump issued a formal rule protecting organizations with deeply held moral or religious objections to the Obama-era contraceptive mandate. This rule finally allowed organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor the protections they are guaranteed under the First Amendment.
Instead of mandating rules and regulations that harm religious freedom, President Trump has spent his time working to enhance religious freedom and protect religious institutions. Seeing a double standard in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, President Trump reversed an Obama-era rule that denied houses of worship disaster aid that they rightly deserved. Unlike non-religious organizations, churches were not allowed to apply for disaster grants, even though they spent just as much time and money helping those affected by the hurricane.
While defending religious freedom in the U.S. has been a top priority for President Trump, he has also worked hard to protect it abroad. In January of this year, President Trump placed Pakistan on a “Special Watch List” for its violations of religious freedom while also placing 10 other countries on a list of particular concern. These lists were created under the International Religious Freedom Act and serve as a tool to hold countries accountable for their religious intolerances.
Our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. President Trump has worked tirelessly to ensure that our country continues to be a place where all can come and worship. America must always strive to protect those who wish to exercise their First Amendment right to religious expression.