Conservative Twitter Responds to Religious Liberty EO on National Day of Prayer

Many Conservatives aren't happy with the executive order President Trump signed today.

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017, before signing an executive order aimed at easing an IRS rule limiting political activity for churches.

By Liberty McArtor Published on May 4, 2017

Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. President Donald Trump marked the day by signing his highly anticipated religious liberty executive order.

Trump’s religious freedom promises appealed to voters during the election season. He seemed to be keeping that promise early on in his first 100 days. In February a version of Thursday’s executive order leaked to the press. The draft contained strong protections for religious businesses and ministries. 

But many conservatives are warning that the final version is worse than the initial draft. They claim it lacks some necessary components for protecting religious freedom. They took to Twitter to express their misgivings. 

National Day of Prayer Festivities

On Wednesday Trump hosted some prominent Christian figures for a dinner at the White House. Conservative commentator Eric Metaxas posed for a photo with Christian singer Stephen Curtis Chapman.

Pastor Franklin Graham also tweeted about the Wednesday dinner. “I thank God that we have a president who seeks the counsel of men and women of God,” Graham posted on Facebook. Graham said Trump’s executive order “helps protect churches and Christian organizations.”

Speculation and Criticism 

During a press briefing Wednesday night, the White House gave journalists a one-pager noting the order’s major highlights. Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeted a photo. 

Conservative critiques came quickly. They claimed the protections listed were too vague or not enough. Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation feared it was “woefully inadequate.”

Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, agreed.

According to the one-pager, freeing churches from the Johnson Amendment seemed to be a major focus of the order. The Johnson Amendment prevents pastors from endorsing candidates from the pulpit. Trump consistently promised to repeal the law during his campaign. But some on Twitter claimed it wasn’t a top concern for many pastors. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat tweeted the issue “has literally never come up” in his conversations with religious leaders.

That drew this response from Andrew Kloster from The Federalist

Pastor and professor Ed Stetzer tweeted a 2012 Christianity Today article reporting that most pastors don’t approve of pulpit endorsements. 

National Review writer Ian Tuttle tweeted a critical statement regarding the order from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian non-profit legal organization.

National Review columnist David French also praised ADF’s statement.

Trump’s Rose Garden Remarks

Later Thursday morning Trump addressed a group in the White House Rose Garden. News outlets, including Fox News, tweeted excerpts from his speech. Trump said he was “giving our churches their voices back.” He also said “no one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”

After his remarks, the president signed the order.

Who Has the Text?

Meanwhile, Twitter users were looking for a copy of the order’s complete text.

Yahoo News reporter Jon Ward tweeted what appeared to be the final order.

The full text of the order is now on the White House website and can be read here.

Disappointment — But Hope

Moore tweeted he was thankful the order affirmed “the need to protect religious freedom.” But he added that “much, much more” is needed.

ADF released another statement regarding the order after its signing. In it, ADF President Michael Farris says the order leaves certain religious liberty promises “unfulfilled,” but also “provides hope” that more action is to come.

Stream contributor and Colson Center President John Stonestreet tweeted, “If the #ExecutiveOrder is a first step, it’s a tiny, tiny one at best.”

A small step, perhaps. But for Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a significant step in defending religious liberty.

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  • Wayne Cook

    I have little sympathy for the whiny leaders who can’t seem to find the order. It was on the WH site yesterday.

    I remember when pastors in Houston were demanded to hand their Sunday sermons over to the gay mayor for review and adjustment.

    Preachers may have become so innured to the hot water of care not to participate in the political life of the nation that they couldn’t recognize a free speech blessing. Shame on them!

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