Well it appears we can all breathe a small sigh of relief, for now.
The awful so-called “religious freedom” executive order everyone feared President Trump would sign on Thursday giving businesses a widespread right to discriminate against LGBTQ people will reportedly be significantly less awful than expected, but awful nonetheless.
Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, and rumors have been spreading all week that Trump has been diligently sharpening his pen to sign a “religious freedom” executive order to coincide with it.
That got everyone — including us — twisted into a knot over whether that meant the leaked “religious freedom” order that circulated in February was going to return in some form.
Now it’s being widely reported that the order Trump plans to sign focuses instead on his campaign promise to do away with the Johnson Amendment, which limits how far tax-exempt churches (i.e., all of them) can go in endorsing political candidates.
But Trump’s order — which we’re fairly certain he’ll talk a huge, incredible, amazing, fantastic game over — won’t actually do much in the way of eliminating the Johnson Amendment, as Congress would have to pass legislation to change the tax code provision.
Instead, it directs the IRS to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson amendment.”
“All laws still apply,” said one official who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity.
The order will also help for-profit companies deny contraception coverage in their employee health insurance plans — a position the Supreme Court has already reenforced in its Hobby Lobby decision. So, more bad news.
Jennifer Jacobs, the White House reporter for Bloomberg News, shared this one-sheet the press corps received Wednesday night:
Here's the one-pager White House aides handed out in briefing room tonight on tomorrow's religious liberty executive order. pic.twitter.com/Bd8KF1KCbL
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) May 4, 2017