I was dreading this. Trump signed it about half an hour ago.
But the final version of the order addresses two issues. First, it instructs the Internal Revenue Service to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion” in cases of pastors and other religious leaders speaking about political candidates from the pulpit, which is currently outlawed by a provision typically referred to as the Johnson Amendment. ““We are giving churches their voices back,” Trump said. Second, it provides “regulatory relief” to religious organizations that object to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires most employers to cover contraception in employee insurance plans.
This is good news.
Trump could not overturn the Johnson Amendment — that would require an act of Congress. All he could to was instruct the IRS not to enforce it much, which it wasn’t doing anyway. As for the regulatory relief, well, the Hobby Lobby case took care of that issue before he came into office.
So this doesn’t change things much (although it appeases his fundie base and Trump gets to do a victory lap).
There was no LGBTQ provision, which was in an earlier draft.
Maybe that’s why many fundamentalist people are not happy. On Twitter, the National Review columnist David French called the order “total weaksauce” and a “sop to the gullible.” Russell Moore, the head of the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said “I am hoping that the draft we are seeing this morning is not the entire project, and that more will be forthcoming.” And on Ryan Anderson, a scholar at the Heritage Foundation who works on religious issues, called the new order “woefully inadequate.”
Praise the Lord — Trump fools people again.