President Donald Trump is expected to sign a controversial executive order this week that will address religious liberty concerns — a move that’s slated to take place Thursday as the U.S. commemorates the National Day of Prayer.
This potential order could cause quite the uproar, considering that a media leak of the executive order back in early February led to anger and frustration among activists who felt that, if adopted, the order would permit widespread discrimination against gays and lesbians. The measure was apparently shelved amid the resulting backlash.
But it seems the order has received new life. According to Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence has reportedly been a force behind the plan and has been pushing for months to see the order come to fruition.
At least one source said that the language hasn’t been modified much since the initial draft leaked in February, noting that the text in the revised order is still “very, very strong.”
But a source identified by Politico as a senior Trump administration official told the outlet that the language is currently being reviewed by attorneys and hasn’t yet been finalized. You can take a look at the original language here.
Either way, Trump is reportedly ready to celebrate the executive order and has invited conservative leaders to the White House on Thursday, where he is expected to sign it into action.
Politico suggested that the timing of the possible executive order makes logistical sense considering the annual observation of the National Day of Prayer. That said, the timing could also be an attempt to temper frustrations some conservatives have felt over a new federal spending bill that retains federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
As Faithwire previously reported, debate first raged in early February when a draft of the order the Trump administration was reportedly considering was leaked to the press. The central premise of the draft was that the government wouldn’t force organizations or people to engage in activities that would “violate their conscience.”
Titled, “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” the proposal would have provided protections for various religious groups — a decision that would have riled some, considering that it would have potentially affected Christian adoption agencies, as well as employee health benefits when it came to issues like abortion and birth control, among other issues.
But fears and debate over the purported executive order tempered a bit after reports indicated that Trump had backed away from the measure, with the president openly pledging to uphold protections for the LGBTQ community that were put in place by Obama in 2014; these provisions impact workers affiliated with federal contractors, as Politico reported.
That said, the Huffington Post recently noted that former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell — who also served as domestic policy chair of Trump’s transition team — said that the religious freedom order might not be as dead as some assumed.
If the latest reports are true, it seems Blackwell was onto something. Trump’s expected move comes after conservative lawmakers and religious leaders petitioned the president to enact such a protection.
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