February 4, 2017 — Religious freedom in America has suffered years of unprecedented erosion. The Executive Branch of the federal government can correct some of these issues. The President can restore the federal government’s respect for the religious freedom of individuals and organizations by signing an Executive Order that establishes a government-wide initiative to respect religious freedom. Elements of such an Order should include:
- Relief from the mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that forces the Little Sisters of the Poor and others to facilitate the provision of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their health plans.
- Preservation of tax-exempt status for nonprofits that hold beliefs based on marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages.
- The ability of religious organizations that partner with the federal government to act according to their beliefs regarding marriage, human sexuality, and the protection of human life at all stages.
- A broad religious exemption to Executive Order 13672 so that faith-based organizations can continue to partner with the federal government to provide much-needed services here at home and abroad.
- The ability of religiously affiliated child welfare providers to provide adoption, foster, or family support services for children in accordance with their religious beliefs.
- Protection of accreditation for religious schools based on their beliefs.
- Conscience protections regarding abortion in the individual health insurance market.
- Any Executive Order should make it clear that religious freedom entails more than the freedom to worship but also includes the ability to act on one’s beliefs. It should also protect individuals and families who run closely-held businesses in accordance with their faith to the greatest extent possible.
Yours in Christ, The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis – Bishop of Charlotte
The Reverend Monsignor Michael Shugrue – Administrator, Diocese of Raleigh