The Catholic bishops of the United States are disappointed by the decision made by President Trump no to revoke an executive order introduced by Barack Obama, which bans discrimination against federal employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who chairs the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, said in a joint statement that the order is “deeply flawed.”
When Obama issued the executive order in 2014, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Richard Malone declared that it was “unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.” The two churchmen said that the term “sexual orientation” was “undefined,” and that “gender identity” was “predicated on the false idea that ‘gender’ is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex.”
“Even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.”
The two bishops asked Obama to include a religious exemption. In addition, 14 leaders of other creeds asked for such an exemption so that “protection for one group would not come at the expense of faith communities” whose religious beliefs motivate them to serve. Among them was Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor at Saddleback Church, who wrote, “In a concrete way, religious organizations will lose financial funding that allows them to serve others in the national interest due to their organizational identity. When the capacity of religious organizations is limited, the common good suffers.”
Fr. Larry Snyder, who was then president of Catholic Charities USA, was one of the 14 leaders who signed the letter to Obama. Snyder told Catholic News Service he was among the leaders who discussed the executive order with White House staff before issuance. At the time, Snyder said that the order would uphold “already existing religious exemptions, that will allow us to maintain fidelity to our deeply held religious beliefs.”
Archbishops Chaput and Lori said in the recent statement: “The Church steadfastly opposes all unjust discrimination, and we need to continue to advance justice and fairness in the workplace,” but the Obama executive order “creates problems rather than solves them.” They added that the order instead “creates new forms of discrimination against people of faith.”
However, within the White House is circulating a draft of an executive order to preserve "religious freedom." The Nation -- a progressive publicaiton -- published a version of the draft, labeling it "sweeping plans by the Trump administration to legalize discrimination." On LGBTQ Nation -- a website dedicated to news for an about homosexualists -- it was said that the "executive order shows that the administration plans to give the religious right a license to discriminate against LGBT people. The order, titled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” is worse than anything you feared." ABC News labeled it a "a potential weakening of protections designed to shield LGBT individuals from discrimination."
Progressives and homosexualists are concern that the new executive order would allow private companies from being forced to provide contraceptive coverage as part of the health plans for employees. ABC News claimed that it would allow tax-exempt entities to speak out "on moral or political issues from a religious perspective" without fear of losing favored tax status. There are currently hundreds of draft executive orders circulating at the White House, according to ABC. White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that there are currently no plans to sign anything at this time.
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