Washington (NRB)Â -Â National Religious Broadcasters thanked President Donald Trump for prioritizing First Amendment freedoms and taking first steps to change our nationâ€™s trajectory through executive action at the White House today. He also commented on a meeting with senior White House staff regarding persecution.
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, NRB President & CEO, issued the following statement after attending the Rose Garden ceremony for the National Day of Prayer at which the President signed the executive order:
â€œPresident Trump deserves praise for applying an emergency brake on the governmentâ€™s movement toward coercion and discrimination. There is much that is commendable in the executive order, even while there is much that is missing â€“ and that I pray will be soon addressed. Todayâ€™s action is a breath of fresh air and should be understood, I believe, as a first step toward righting the wrongs of recent years and reassuring people of faith that they are not second-class citizens.
â€œFor a number of years, the value of religious beliefs and their free expression in daily life was at best an afterthought for many political and corporate elites, and â€“ even worse â€“ the subject of attack. The treatment of Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor was the tip of the iceberg as examples of such hostility when oneâ€™s faith did not fall in line with the dogma of the radical Left.
â€œI am pleased that the President is taking steps to re-establish religious liberty as a priority that should be high in the minds of government officials. Individuals and organizations should not be coerced because of their biblical beliefs on marriage, the sanctity of life, and other values they hold dear.
â€œMoreover, ministries should know they will not be targeted by the IRS for speaking their minds in the normal course of doing ministry. Iâ€™m pleased the President is taking the initiative to move toward removing the shackles of the Johnson Amendment. Congress should now pass the Free Speech Fairness Act. It should never be the governmentâ€™s business to limit the speech of pastors.
â€œI pray todayâ€™s action by the White House will set a new tone nationwide honoring the value of religious free expression and ending an embrace of intolerance and discrimination against people of faith.
â€œFinally, I was pleased to have been invited to meet today with senior White House national security staff to discuss ways for our nation to be more active in defending people of faith around the world. Surely, there is much to be done in combating persecution and genocide.â€
Earlier this year, the NRB Board of Directors unanimously approved a resolution urging â€œthat the U.S. Government must faithfully preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitutionâ€™s guarantee that all citizens are free to speak and free to exercise the tenets of their faith in daily life.â€