The US Bishops finally got around to acknowledging the ongoing efforts of President Trump and his Administration in defending Religious Liberty. In a letter dated January 15, 2020, to commemorate Religious Freedom Day, Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, made a special mention of the Trump Administration’s “concrete actions” in protecting and defending Religious Liberty.
“On this Religious Freedom Day, we are grateful that the right of religious liberty is cherished in this country. I appreciate concrete actions the Administration has undertaken, such as recent steps to protect faith-based social service providers. May we Catholics in America resolve to build on our inheritance for the good of all.”
Defending Religious Liberty was one of President Trump’s campaign promises which he continues to work towards solidifying with federal court justice appointments and Supreme Court nominations.
On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order asking the IRS to use “maximum enforcement discretion” over the regulation, known as Johnson Amendment, which applies to churches and nonprofits as he promised:
“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore. And we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. Never, ever.”
A year later on May 3, 2018 President Trump signed the Executive Order entitled “Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” that would ensure that the faith-based and community organizations that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the Federal Government.
And at his address at the United Nations, on September 23, 2019, President Trump said:
“I’m very proud to say that we’ve obliterated the Johnson Amendment within our country so that now we can listen to the people that we want to listen to — religious leaders — without recrimination against them.
“The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God. This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.”
President Trump then called on all the nations of the world to,
“… end religious persecution; to stop the crimes against people of faith, release prisoners of conscience, repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief, protect the vulnerable, the defenseless, and the oppressed, America stands with believers in every country who ask only for the freedom to live according to the faith that is within their own hearts.”
We commend our Bishops for recognizing President Trump for his promise and continuing efforts to insure that Catholics and members of all religions will not be persecuted for their faith.
The complete text of Bishop Murry’s letter can be found at http://www.usccb.org/news/2020/20-7.cfm