Are Donald Trump and Republicans Getting Serious About Religious Liberty?

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Since beginning his 2016 presidential run last year, Donald Trump has not always appeared to have the strongest grasp on the issue of religious liberty. However, if his recent actions are any indication, that may be quickly changing.

Most noteworthy was a statement Trump released last week vowing to defend religious freedom as president and, particularly, to sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), backing up a pledge he made last December in a letter to the American Principles Project:

Religious liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. It is our first liberty and provides the most important protection in that it protects our right of conscience. Activist judges and executive orders issued by Presidents who have no regard for the Constitution have put these protections in jeopardy. If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics and the beliefs of Americans of all faiths. The Little Sisters of the Poor, or any religious order for that matter, will always have their religious liberty protected on my watch and will not have to face bullying from the government because of their religious beliefs.

These promises will no doubt be seen as a welcome development to conservative Christians unsure about Trump, and his recent comments have even won him grudging approval from one of his most ardent conservative opponents, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), FADA’s prime Senate sponsor:

Lee told National Review Online that Trump would be likely to protect religious freedom more effectively than Hillary Clinton would.

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