Americans United for Separation of Church and State said today that it will work vigorously to oppose any attempts by the administration of Donald J. Trump to undermine religious freedom in the United States.
During his campaign, Trump said that he would, if elected, create a massive, federally funded school voucher scheme; sign a bill that allows religion to be used as an excuse to discriminate against same-sex and other couples; block Muslims from entering the country and repeal a federal law that prohibits houses of worship from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
Americans United has vowed to oppose these dangerous ideas.
“Donald Trump’s rhetoric shows a shocking disregard for core principles of religious liberty,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Religious freedom is far too valuable for us to lose and far too fragile for us to leave unguarded. Americans United stands at the ready to fight back against any and all of Trump’s dangerous initiatives.”
During his push for the Oval Office, Trump pledged to sign a dangerous bill called the “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA), which targets same-sex couples for discrimination. If passed, it would allow people who hold the religious belief that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman, or that extramarital relations are sinful, to ignore laws that conflict with that belief. Individuals, businesses, healthcare providers, taxpayer-funded social service providers and even government employees would be allowed to use FADA to get around non-discrimination protections.
In September, Trump unveiled a school voucher scheme that would set aside billions of federal dollars that could potentially be used to fund religious schools. His plan would redirect existing federal funding to create a $20 billion block grant for states to use to send low-income students to private institutions, many of which would be sectarian in character.
In addition, Trump has repeatedly said that he would repeal the so-called “Johnson Amendment,” which was added to the federal tax code in 1954 at the urging of then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson (D-Texas). It prohibits all 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, from endorsing or opposing candidates for office.
Trump has also proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States or subjecting them to heightened forms of scrutiny simply because of their faith. Such a policy, AU’s Lynn said, “would violate our nation's fundamental commitment to religious freedom.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.