Surrounded by supporters and religious leaders at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on Thursday, Donald Trump signed a new executive order "to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty," NBC News reports.
The order eases a restriction on churches getting directly involved in political campaigns and makes it easier for employers claiming religious objections to deny employees contraception coverage in their health care plans. "We will not allow people of faith to be bullied, targeted, or silenced any more," Trump told the crowd assembled in the Rose Garden.
The Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty fulfills a promise of Trump's campaign, specifically targeting the "Johnson Amendment," which explicitly prohibits churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations from getting involved in political campaigns. While only Congress has the power to overturn the law, Trump's new order calls for diminished enforcement from the Internal Revenue Service.
The order also gives regulatory relief to employers who object on religious grounds to the Obamacare mandate that employers provide contraception coverage in their employee healthcare plans. An earlier draft of the religious liberty executive order included provisions that would have allowed federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ employees based on religious belief, but the signed version of the order did not include those stipulations.