Trump's religious freedom EO: A double-victory
President Trump's executive order on religious freedom is of historic import. Not only does this executive order guarantee free religious expression and practice in the face of half a century of policies designed to squelch religion and sideline it from the national discourse, but it also sends two crucial messages that merit evaluation.
For way too long have religious groups seen their rights denied, as have individuals and businesses. While religious conviction in effect became something at times illegal in the Obama era – remember the outrageous and mortal fine against a bakery whose owners refused to make a "gay wedding cake"? – a blind eye was turned to the fact that these liberal policies actually impinged upon people's free speech and expression. If one is required to cater to interests that violate his religious beliefs, in the pursuit of "non-discrimination," one is in fact subject to his free speech and expression being muzzled and outlawed. It's that simple.
America was founded upon principles of free speech and expression – the notion of "LGBTQ interests" being a protected class, whose demands can override others' free speech and expression, would have been anathema to the Founding Fathers. Yet, in the topsy-turvy world of Barack Hussein Obama and his legacy, catering to the desires of a deviant and in-your-face group has been deemed more important than individuals' freedom of speech and expression – the most basic of American values. So too for other areas in which progressive social and political engineering bar the public expression of religious ideas due to their being inconsistent with liberal values.
Thus, by signing the new executive order, President Trump defended free speech and expression and began to put an end to their oppression.
Freedom of religion does not merely imply that one can seclude himself in a room and pray in private. Whereas the Soviet Union would send Jews who studied Hebrew and recited psalms to gulag camps, and would blackmail and threaten Christian clergy and churches, freedom of religion in America does not just mean freedom from the tactics of totalitarian Communist intimidation and incarceration. Freedom of religion means free and public religious expression, with the ability to act upon faith principles with conviction and impact.
When houses of worship and religious leaders are banned from articulating their opinions on the issues of the day, lest their institutions face tax penalties, the government has indeed enacted an outright curtailment on freedom of religion. When clergy must muzzle themselves and make sure not to say anything about current events, and thereby fail to provide religious readership, such is a state of restriction of religion. When public religion must become a politically correct endorsement of whatever progressive society wants, and biblical values that contradict liberal social values may not be freely broadcast or acted upon, religion in effect becomes outlawed.
The new executive order has thus made a strong statement in favor of religious freedom and against government hindering and tampering with religion.
Thank God that President Trump has begun to right the great wrongs of the past decades. May the president continue to push back against a system that sought to impede freedom, and may God bless the president and the United States of America.
Avrohom Gordimer serves on the editorial board of Jewish Action magazine, is a staff writer for the Cross-Currents website, and is a frequent contributor to Israel National News and a host of other publications. He is a member of the Rabbinical Council of America and the New York Bar, and he is also a senior rabbinic fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, a national organization that speaks on behalf of what are commonly known as Judeo-Christian ethics – the moral voice of the Torah. By day, he works as an account executive at a large Jewish organization based in Manhattan. The views expressed in the above article are solely those of the writer.