Latest Trump Order Delivers 'Broadside to Separation of Church and State'

President Donald Trump’s executive order on “religious liberty,” signed at the White House on Thursday, may not be quite as bad as rights groups feared when they mounted an emergency protest in the nation’s capitol on Wednesday.

But, even watered down from an initial draft, the order opens the door to more dark money in politics, throws women “under the bus,” and boasts the support of ultra-conservatives already emboldened by the right-wing Trump administration. 

As such, it drew vows of legal action and condemnation from progressive advocacy groups across the spectrum—including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which denounced the order as “a broadside to our country’s long-standing commitment to the separation of church and state” and threatened to “see Trump in court, again.”

“Whether by executive order or through backroom deals, it’s clear that the Trump administration and Congressional leadership are using religion as a wedge to further divide the country and permit discrimination,” said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero. “We intend to file suit today.”

According to initial reports, the Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty directs the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” over the Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. “We are giving our churches their voices back,” Trump said to conservative leaders gathered at the White House for National Prayer Day.

The order “also provides ‘regulatory relief’ for organizations that object on religious grounds to a provision in Obamacare that mandates employers provide certain health services, including coverage for contraception,” CNN reported.

While the full text of the order had not yet been released as of Thursday afternoon, Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs posted this White House handout on Wednesday evening:

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