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Religious Tolerance logo


Part 5

Reactions to President Trump's
executive order:

hate 1

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This topic is continued here from the previous essay.

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Reactions by various individuals and groups:

  • Hannah Simpson, 32, is a transgender Jewish activist. She said that the Executive Order will allow religious groups to:

    "... further the perception that transgender people and those who are gender diverse are less worthy of civil protections and access to resources, even in the private sector, and less welcome in religious practices. I think this is going to show itself in so many ways -- starting with things like access to or respect for one's identity and presentation in religious spaces." 4

  • Susan Sommer, director of constitutional litigation at Lambda Legal, said:
  • "We absolutely do see discrimination by faith-based organizations against transgender people. There's particularly troubling experiences that transgender people have at the hands of faith-based organizations that provide government-funded social services. They can use their religious beliefs to tell transgender people that there is something wrong with them." 4

Many conservative religious groups feel that being transgender is a mental illness, and manifests as "gender confusion," for which the "cure" is therapy. But scientific research has negated these beliefs. Research has shown that every brain contains either female or male structures, just as every person's DNA has either female or male sex hormones, and -- with the exception of intersexual persons -- everyones genital region contains either female or male structures. These structures in the brains of transgender persons generally match the person's current gender identity and are opposite to their birth-identified gender. Further, no form of therapy has proven even slightly effective at convincing transgender persons that their birth-identified gender is correct.

  • Warren Throckmorton, writing for Patheos, said:

    "... the order did next to nothing of substance. Everything Trump and his supporters want to change must be done legislatively or via rule making." 2

  • Rick Cohen, Director of Communications with the National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) disagreed, saying:

    "The ... [Executive Order] is only one part of the equation. It removes the bright line that all 501(c)(3) organizations have been able to rely on for sixty years: if you are tax-exempt, you can talk about the issues of the day, but you don’t get to endorse or oppose candidates. Now that bright line is fuzzy. Combine that with pending efforts in Congress to remove the Johnson Amendment altogether through pending standalone bills or incorporating repeal into a broader tax reform package and one of the hallmarks of the nonprofit, religious, and philanthropic sector is under grave threat." 2

    The "Johnson Amendment" forbids religious institutions and other non-profits from openly advocating for the election of individual candidates. It has only been used once to prosecute a faith-based group.

  • David French, writing for the National Review, said:

    "Freedom must be written into law, not wish-cast through commands that a later president can reverse. ... if reports are correct [the executive order] ... is constitutionally dubious, dangerously misleading, and ultimately harmful to the very cause that it purports to protect. In fact, he should tear it up, not start over, and do the actual real statutory and regulatory work that truly protects religious liberty."

    "... the order has three main components:

    1) a promise to 'protect and vigorously promote religious liberty,'

    2) a directive to 'ease restrictions on political activity by churches and charities,' and

    3) an order to '"federal agencies to exempt some religious organizations from Affordable Care Act requirements that provide employees with health coverage for contraception.'

    Those directives are respectively 1) meaningless, 2) dangerous, and 3) meaningless." 3

Any restrictions on access to contraceptives will cause additional unexpected and unwanted pregnancies, which in turn will generate more abortions. Thus, preserving access to contraceptives may be considered a pro-life matter.

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How will the new executive order affect discrimiation by religious goups against minorities?

Consider the following past and present instances where religious actions based on religious belief have hurt people:
  • During the 19th century in the U.S., southern conservative religious leaders generally supported human slavery on the basis of the biblical passage: Genesis 9:25-27. The passage says that Noah's son Ham had seen "the nakedness of his father." So, Noah laid a curse, called "The Curse of Ham.' However, Noah did not directly curse Ham, who was allegedly guilty of some undefined type of sexual indiscretion. The curse punished Ham's son, Canaan, who was not present at the time or involved in the indiscretion. The passage says that all of Ham's descendents would forever be slaves. Today, to hold Canaan and millions of innocent uninvolved persons responsible for a sin committed by someone else is usually considered to be profoundly immoral. However the Bible has many passages involving such scapegoating, which involves the transference of sin from a guilty person to one or more innocent, uninvolved persons. For some obscure reason, the theologians in early America decided Ham's descendents included all black people. And so, they invented a religious justification to enslave blacks. The First Amendment guaranteed the right of theologians to hold this opinion, and guarantees that right today. The executive order merely emphasizes the right of religious individuals and groups to hold views like this that denigrate others.

  • Also in the past, a common religious belief was that God placed humans of different races and skin colors in different parts of the world: blacks in Africa; whites in Europe, etc. They decided that God intended people of different races to remain separate. This religious belief justified taking action to segregate the races, to prohibit interracial marriage, etc. Again, people can freely hold this religious belief, but to apply it in the form of discrimination is profoundly hurtful. Consider the 2016 movie "Loving" which involved an interracial married couple Mildred and Richard Loving who were persecuted in Virginia. Again, the executive order merely emphasizes the right of religious individuals and groups to hold views that denigrate others; it would not restrict the disribution of religious beliefs like this one in the future.

  • There are many passages in the Bible which stress that if one prays to God for healing, God will heal. As a result, some parents who believe in the inerrancy of scripture refrain from taking their sick children to doctors. Some interpret seeking of medical attention as demonstrating a lack of faith in God and the Bible. They feel that this might make God's healing less likely. As a result, some children continue to be deprived of medical attenton and die needlessly of Type 1 diabetes and other curable or manageable diseases. This executive order will support parents' rights to continue to hold beliefs like this, but will not offer them protection from prosecution for the death of their child.

  • There are a half dozen "clobber" passages in the Bible that are interpreted by conservative Christians as condemning same-gender sexual behavior, even if it is consensual, safe, and an expression of their sexual orientation. Some conservative Christians, motivated by their interpretation of these passages, actively campaign against gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex marriage) and against state human rights laws which protect the LGBT community from discrimination. Again, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution continues to guarantee their right to promote these beliefs, and the Executive Order reinforces their right. However the Order will not grant them exemptions from human rights laws. There have been a few highly publicized cases of lesbian or gay couples being refused service when they:
    • attempted to order a wedding cake from a baker, or

    • tried to hire a photographer to take a series of photographs of their commitment ceremony, or.

    • tried to obtain a marriage license from a county court clerk.

  • As written, the Executive Order appears to appeal or negate the Johnson Amendment that prohibits clergy from political advocacy. However, many commentators have noted that Presidential Executive Orders cannot nullify an existing law. Thus, this section of the Order is probably without effect.

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Related essays on this web site that you might find interesting:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Free image downloaded from Pixabay.
  2. Warren Throckmorton, "Reaction to Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order," Patheos, 2017-MAY-04, at:
  3. David French, "Trump’s Executive Order on Religious Liberty Is Worse Than Useless," National Review," 2017-MAY-04, at:
  4. Kaelyn Forde, "LGBT activists react to Trump's latest executive order: 'We have to remain extremely vigilant,' NBC News, 2017-MAY-04, at:

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted on: 2017-MAY-05
Latest update: 2017-MAY-09

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