Will Trump Liberate Christians from Obama’s Lawless Legacy?
With the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump has fulfilled one of his central campaign promises, which 1 in 5 voters said was the most important issue: appoint Scalia-like judges to the Supreme Court.
Skeptics like me were wrong on this. Trump’s judicial appointment is a cause for celebration, and it will pay dividends for generations to come.
Obama decisions still stand that threaten the liberties of traditional religious believers with federal lawsuits that could cripple church institutions.
What we don’t know yet is whether Trump will use his power to overturn key Obama decisions that threaten the liberties of traditional religious believers with federal lawsuits that could cripple church institutions. The signs this week were troubling: the mere rumor that Trump was considering signing an executive order on religious liberty produced an LGBT backlash large enough the Trump administration felt obliged to announce it would not repeal Pres. Obama’s executive order adding Gender Identity to the list of protected characteristics for the federal government and contractors who do business with it. (The original executive order banning sexual orientation discrimination was issued by Pres. Clinton and not revoked by Pres. Bush.)
“President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community,” the White House said in a statement. “The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact.”
Rewriting the Civil Rights Act by Presidential Whim to Threaten Christians
Worse than this executive order was Obama’s decision to stack the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with commissioners supporting the radical position that the Civil Rights Act’s ban on sex discrimination actually includes sexual orientation and gender identity — a novel theory which Eric Holder announced on Dec. 18, 2014, retroactively reading into that 1964 law the latest trends in liberal social activism.
This creative interpretation of law bypassed for Democrats the need to actually pass federal LGBT protections in Congress — which to pass, would have to include substantive religious liberty protections. Since gay activists oppose such protections, they rely instead on Obama’s executive end-run around Congress. Will Trump will leave that end-run in place? Believers need to know.
Already a Catholic school in Georgia has been told by the EEOC that it may not fire a teacher for entering a gay marriage. If “informal” means of conciliation were not successful, the EEOC threatened to sue the school or issue a “right to sue” letter to the plaintiff. The school settled, rather than fight, helping the EEOC establish legal precedents for use in the future.
The Obama administration extended its law-bending theory to every federal law banning sex discrimination in housing and education, leading it to warn public schools that they may lose federal funding if they fail to permit biological males who identify as female to shower with girls. Eleven states have challenged that ruling. One of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ first tests, if he is confirmed, is to repudiate in court Obama’s novel legal theories and restore each state’s right to make decisions on how to reconcile protecting transgender students and the ordinary privacy rights of girls.
How can Pres. Trump respond? Two important positions on the EEOC are now vacant: general counsel and one commissioner. A second commissioner’s term ends in July 2017. These are appointments of grave importance to the future of religious liberty in the United States.
We need several new jurists of the Neil Gorsuch stamp to be appointed as general counsel and EEOC commissioner. Personnel is politics, and whom Pres. Trump appoints to these key positions is far more important than most believers recognize. The 1964 Civil Rights Act which gave birth to the EEOC does not speak to sexual orientation discrimination but it does guarantee religious liberty.
Secondly, the Trump Justice Department can reverse the position Obama’s team is taking in pending litigation that laws designed to protect women against sex discrimination are now weapons that can be wielded by the LGBT activists against Christian charities, schools, universities, and ministries, as well as public schools.
Bottom line: If the Trump administration is unwilling to take the heat that will come from restoring the EEOC and the 1964 Civil Rights Act to their original mission, believers are in trouble. Those with influence within the administration need to call attention to these important steps.