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Archbishop calls on Donald Trump to renew freedom of religion

The US bishops’ head of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has called on President-elect Donald Trump to undo those executive orders and mandates enacted by President Barack Obama which, the bishops insist, negatively impact on religious liberty.

In a guest column for Catholic News Service, Archbishop William Lori writes: “The federal government has played an unfortunate role in attempting to coerce people of faith to violate their consciences. Take the mandate from the US Department of Health and Human Services (also known as the ‘HHS mandate’) that forces Catholics like the Little Sisters to facilitate drugs and devices that can cause an abortion, among other morally objectionable ‘services’.

“In another example, the federal government seeks to restrict the hiring practices of faith-based organisations that partner with the government to provide needed services, especially to our military service members around the globe…President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13672 would restrict faith-based organisations from being able to hire people who agree with the mission of the organisation if they have a contract with the federal government. Faith-based organizations should not be excluded from working with the government to provide much-needed services.”

In light of such examples, Archbishop Lori addresses an appeal directly to the incoming president: “President-elect Donald Trump can alleviate the current financial and regulatory burden that weighs heavily on people of faith.

“First, the president-elect can – and should – rescind executive orders that effectively exclude faith-based organizations from partnering with the federal government…Second, the president-elect should direct the head of HHS to place an immediate moratorium on the HHS mandate. Then the next administration should rescind the HHS mandate. Contraceptives are not preventive ‘health care’, and indeed are associated with adverse health outcomes… Third, the president-elect should rescind the Obama administration’s ‘guidance’ and related memos…that force schools to treat students according to their ‘internal sense of gender’.”

Archbishop Lori concludes by stressing that “President-elect Trump has the opportunity to ensure that people of all faiths can continue to do their good work in serving their communities without having to violate their consciences or face crippling fines or onerous lawsuits. Our hope is that the next administration will ensure that Americans remain free to serve.”