CatholicVote.org, a prominent Catholic issues organization, yesterday published a letter they received from Donald Trump which indicates an increased commitment to religious liberty from the Republican presidential nominee. As he did in the letter his campaign sent to the American Principles Project last December, Trump discussed the importance of freedom of religion and reiterated his support for the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would prevent government discrimination against individuals and organizations which hold traditional views on marriage. In his letter to CatholicVote, Trump also added that he would press for the passage of the Conscience Protection Act, a bill which would prevent pro-life healthcare workers from being forced to participate in abortions. (The Pulse 2016’s Michael Lucchese previously wrote on the Conscience Protection Act here.)
In voicing his support for both bills, Trump was cautious to add that he would take action only if Congress was first to take the initiative: “If Congress considers legislation such as the First Amendment Defense Act or the Conscience Protection Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signature and enactment.” In his letter to APP, Trump used remarkably similar language: “If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signature and enactment.”
While not the strongest possible language, these letters do indicate that a President Donald Trump, if elected, would be generally supportive of religious liberty initiatives undertaken by Congress. This is particularly comforting given the importance of the protections offered by FADA and the Conscience Protection Act in light of the changing landscape on abortion and freedom of religion — and also considering what conservatives would face under the alternative candidate.
It is likely Hillary Clinton and her allies would continue the radical policies of the Obama administration, forcing all health care providers to perform abortions or lose federal funding. Such a stance is unconscionable and underscores the need for the Conscience Protection Act. The government should also not be empowered to punish employees or deny contracts to organizations merely because they hold traditional views on marriage. FADA would protect against this eventuality.
Kudos to Donald Trump for making a commitment to religious liberty at a time when its defense has become especially important.
Kevin Dawson is the Operations Manager at American Principles Project.