Friday, February 03, 2017

Draft Executive Order Would Expand Free Exercise Protections

The Nation reported yesterday on a leaked copy of a draft Executive Order on Religious Freedom which is currently being circulated by the White House, saying:
The draft order seeks to create wholesale exemptions for people and organizations who claim religious or moral objections to same-sex marriage, premarital sex, abortion, and trans identity, and it seeks to curtail women’s access to contraception and abortion through the Affordable Care Act. 
The draft titled Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom is set out in full in The Nation report.  The Order provides in part:
“Religious organization” shall be construed broadly to encompass any organization, including closely held for-profit corporations, operated for a religious purpose, even if its purpose is not exclusively religious, and is not limited to houses of worship or tax-exempt organizations, or organizations controlled by or associated with a house of worship or a convention or association of churches.
Sec. 3 Religious Freedom Principles and Policymaking Criteria. All executive branch departments and agencies (“agencies”) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, adhere to the following principles and criteria when formulating and implementing regulations, actions, or policies:
(a) Religious freedom is not confined to religious organizations or limited to religious exercise that takes place in houses of worship or the home. It is guaranteed to persons of all faiths and extends to all activities of life.
(b) Persons and organizations do not forfeit their religious freedom when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts: or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments....