Trump is a Threat to Religious Liberty, Not a Defender

Trump is a Threat to Religious Liberty, Not a Defender
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

A central pillar of Donald Trump's compact with conservative Christians, which has been immensely useful for him and is critical to his reelection prospects, is his much-professed concern for "religious liberty." There's a whole fact sheet about the topic on the White House website. It was the alleged subject of a major executive order early in his presidency. And his administration's Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services have become very involved in conflicts usually described as religious-liberty issues in the courts and the regulatory agencies.

But as Steven Waldman (founder of Beliefnet, a web portal for all things religious) observes in Sacred Liberty, his recently published comprehensive history of America's tradition of religious freedom, Trump's actual record is not so positive:

Donald Trump's legacy on this issue can seem confusing. He talks about defending religious freedom more than almost any other president. His administration has taken a few positive steps, such as deciding that the Federal Emergency Management Agency could give disaster relief to houses of worship and raising concerns about persecution of Christians overseas.
"Nobody's done more for Christians or evangelicals or frankly religion than I have," Trump said in November 2018. But much of his religious liberty agenda involves efforts, focused largely on helping conservative Christians, that are minor, symbolic, or actually damaging.

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