National News

Where’s the Order on Religious Freedom?

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Talk of President Donald Trump possibly signing an executive order on religious freedom – which drew both criticism and praise – has been replaced with discussion about what happened to it and what a final version, if there is one, will look like.

A draft version of the executive order, called “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” had been widely criticized in late January by those who said it would legalize discrimination and was too far-reaching. It then failed to appear on the president’s desk while rumors circulated that a scaled-back version might appear eventually.

“We hope that President Trump and his administration will take action soon, especially to provide relief from the onerous HHS mandate,” said Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, referring to the mandate issued by the federal Department of Health and Human Services requiring most religious employers to provide coverage of artificial birth control for their employees even if they are morally opposed to it.

“Now that some of the Cabinet posts are being confirmed, we hope that concrete and immediate action is taken to protect religious freedom,” he said.