Eighteen senators this week called on President Donald Trump to issue “without delay” an executive order requiring federal agencies to respect religious freedom. Led by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.), the legislators wrote that the free exercise of religion, Americans’ first freedom in the Bill of Rights, has been under duress and needs protection. In particular, they highlighted the federal government’s attempt to coerce groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor into compromising their beliefs in the realm of life and health, the discriminatory chill against otherwise qualified religious charitable groups in federal social service grants and contracts, and potential threats to tax status and accreditation stemming from the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling.
Referencing the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, the senators said that the state is supposed to use its power to help the people. They added, “We cannot be a country that financially punishes individuals for practicing their sincerely held religious beliefs or decides which practices are a valid part of a particular religious tradition and worthy of protection.”
Those signing the letter – Sens. Blunt, Lankford, Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Luther Strange (R-Ala.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) – concluded, “We have a responsibility to protect and defend the free exercise of religion for people of all faith both here and around the world.”
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: April 7, 2017