Religious Liberty Upheld by Department of Labor

August 20, 2018

A Win for Faith and the First Amendment

The Department of Labor issued a directive that protects the religious freedoms of government contractors who disagree with same-sex marriage. The Trump administration has publicly declared to hold their staff accountable to defend the religious rights of organizations.

Former President George W. Bush issued an executive order in 2002 that established a framework for faith-based contractors seeking contracts with the federal government. After former President Obama took office, he amended that policy in tandem with an equal opportunity employment executive order to include sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class. While the Obama administration kept the religious exemption in place, there was much confusion on the matter after he added this new “class”. The Trump administration wanted to make it clear that their own staff who issue these contracts cannot discriminate against religious organizations, nor can those organizations be charged with LGBT discrimination.

The new policy directive is based on three recent Supreme Court cases. The first being the Jack Phillips case where he was unlawfully punished for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony. The Supreme Court ruled in Phillips’ favor. The second case ruled in favor of a Missouri church that was denied federal grant money based on their faith for a playground that was to be used for secular purposes. The last case was the Hobby Lobby decision in 2014 that allowed the business to opt out of contraceptive coverage. All three cases support the religious rights of employees and faith-based businesses.

Additionally, the directive explicitly gives faith-based contractors an equal opportunity when competing for federal government contracts. They will no longer be singled-out just because of their religious nature or simply because they disagree with same-sex marriage.

While this is a step in the right direction for faith-based groups, the next step would be to rid the policy of the sexual orientation and gender identity language. Religion is protected by the U.S. Constitution, however, sexual orientation is not. The Obama administration’s actions to take advantage of every opportunity to put this language into various policies to be reversed.

Eagle Forum applauds the Trump administration for recognizing the rights of the American people to their own religious beliefs.

Sincerely,

Tabitha Walter
D.C. Executive Director, Eagle Forum