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Trump’s new order: More political freedom for churches; religion back on table to deny birth control

President Donald Trump holds up his new executive order.

President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order to prevent people of faith from being “targeted, bullied or silenced.”

The order expands religious organizations’ ability to become involved with politics and endorse political candidates, previously limited under what’s known as the Johnson Amendment, and enables private employers to use religion as a pretext to deny reproductive health care to employees.

He signed the order at a ceremony in the Rose Garden at the White House coinciding with the National Day of Prayer.

“We are giving our churches their voices back,” he said, adding that he is directing the Department of Justice to develop new rules for religious protections for all Americans.

The ACLU released a statement immediately following the ceremony saying the organization intends to file a lawsuit today. The Center for Reproductive Rights also vowed to challenge Trump’s order.

“President Trump’s executive order discriminates against women and robs them of essential preventive care. Without health coverage of contraception under the ACA, countless women will lose their basic right to prevent pregnancy and plan when they have children,” states Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center. “Plain and simple: President Trump’s executive order will hurt women. And the Center for Reproductive Rights is ready to fight back in court.”

In February, the N.C. Council of Churches denounced Trump’s effort to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

“Imagine the faith communities embroiled in discussions over whether it would be Hillary or Donald for your church. And who would give them the most money to support one of those people. Pulpits all over this country will be bought by the highest bidder,” wrote Executive Director Jennifer Copeland.

A lot of civil rights organizations, advocates and activists were expecting Trump’s order to contain a provision that would allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. That was not the case.

Equality NC held a press conference with area clergy just before the President’s ceremony criticizing such a provision.

“Today is not an affirmation of religious freedom by our government, it’s an attack on it,” said Doug Hammack, minister at North Raleigh Community Church.

Equality NC Executive Director Chris Sgro asked the Trump administration to decease its “endless attacks” on the LGBTQ community.

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