One of the campaign promises that Donald Trump made was to restore and protect religious liberty. And it appears that he is about to fulfill that promise.
The Trump administration has circulated a draft executive order on religious liberty that will bring civil rights protections for Christians into the 21st century. Its stated purpose is “to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious freedom of persons and organizations in America.”
According to the document, Christian organizations include even “closely held for-profit corporations, operated for a religious purpose, even if its purpose is not exclusively religious.” The order is directed to those who work for the executive branch including the Attorney General and the Department of Justice.
The draft order says, “This Constitutional protection ensures that Americans and their religious organizations will not be coerced by the Federal Government into participating in activities that violate their consciences, and will remain free to express their viewpoints without suffering adverse treatment from the Federal Government. It shall be the policy of this Administration to protect religious freedom.”
If the order is published as it is currently written, the attorney general of the United States will be on the side of those who seek to exercise religious liberty rather than be against them. He will be their friend in the courtroom and not their enemy, contrary to the last eight years, which have been a relentless restriction and erosion of the civil rights of Christians in the marketplace. The attorney general will now be the advocate of Christian students and schools and bakers and photographers and florists and businesses and no longer their adversary. The Department of Justice will be defending Christians in court rather than attacking them.
The Obama administration had been using terminology that suggests that freedom of religion is restricted to freedom of worship. The order treats the free exercise of religion as a right that every American possesses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It protects not just freedom of belief or even freedom of worship, but the freedom to actually exercise one’s faith in the marketplace and the public square every minute of every day without the interference of the federal government, just as the Founders intended.
“Religious freedom is not confined to religious organizations or limited to religious exercise that takes place in houses of worship or the home,” the order says. “It is guaranteed to persons of all faiths and extends to all activities of life.”
When Christian values are in conflict with secularism and the homosexual agenda, the Christian will win it every time under this order. They will not be punished for running their organizations in harmony with their biblical values.
For instance, the order says that the Federal Government “shall not discriminate” against Christian agencies that “provide… federally-funded child-welfare services, including promoting or providing adoption, foster, or family support services for children.” They will be free to follow scriptural standards and place children exclusively in homes with a mother and a father without fear of punishment from the Federal Government.
Christian-run businesses and organizations involved in “employing others” will, for example, be able to take biblical principles of human sexuality into consideration in their personnel policies without fear that the Federal Government will sue them out of business.
The IRS will be forbidden to withhold tax-exempt status from any organization which “speak(s) on moral or political issues from a religious perspective.” These issues explicitly include advocating for marriage “as the union of one man and one woman,” promoting the view that “sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage,” promoting the view that there are just two genders, male and female, which are matters of “immutable biological sex… determined… at or before birth,” and promoting the view that “human life begins at conception.”
In other words, no longer will the Federal Government punish those who advocate for natural marriage or for abstinence outside marriage, or punish those who argue against the view that people are “born that way.”
And here is the kicker. No one will be prohibited from “receiving government grants or contracts” because their business is guided by Christian principles. Federal agencies “will accommodate the religion of federal employees” and will not “substantially burden … (their) religious exercise.”
It should be noticed that this order isn’t about forcing anything on anyone. Any employer who doesn’t want to run his business according to Christian principles doesn’t have to. But those employers who do will have a friend in this administration.
And the order would supersede all previous and future orders in areas of conflict, and runs in direct conflict with the Obama-era executive order on special rights for LGBTQ people.
The draft order is no doubt under advisement of Trump’s evangelical board. It will relieve pressure on Christians to comply with the radical social agenda of the LGBTQ community. But prophecy tells us that religious freedom will change under pressure of natural disasters that will be perceived as divine punishment. While protecting religious freedom in the marketplace, the United States will eventually restrict freedom of worship and require obedience to laws that violate the Law of God such as Sunday observance. It will appear that America is getting back to God, but that there are a few that are holding back the divine blessing and are the cause of the disasters because they do not honor the first day of the week. Right now it all seems benign. Stay tuned.
“It is on the law of God that the last great struggle of the controversy between Christ and His angels and Satan and his angels will come, and it will be decisive for all the world…. Men in responsible positions will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but from the sacred desk will urge upon the people the observance of the first day of the week, pleading tradition and custom in behalf of this man-made institution. They will point to calamities on land and sea—to the storms of wind, the floods, the earthquakes, the destruction by fire—as judgments indicating God’s displeasure because Sunday is not sacredly observed. These calamities will increase more and more, one disaster will follow close upon the heels of another; and those who make void the law of God will point to the few who are keeping the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as the ones who are bringing wrath upon the world. This falsehood is Satan’s device that he may ensnare the unwary.” The Southern Watchman, June 28, 1904.