Trump hated Executive Orders before he got to use them. Now they are his go to for getting things done, even with Republican control of Congress.
The latest Executive Order seeks to replace sermons with political speech for pro-Trump churches and provide religious cover to bigots. According to a tweet by Kelly O’Donnell, the Executive Order has three main components.
The executive order will cover these points and not be broader as some had expected or in some cases even feared. pic.twitter.com/nQGfDTe1vm
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) May 4, 2017
Trump’s latest EO seeks to ignore the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution to provide hard right evangelicals with cover to preach Trumpism instead of the bible without compromising their tax-free status, provide religious cover to bigots, ala Mike Pence’s failed anti-LGBT bill and more. That bill failed under the weight of an economic boycott by corporations who recognized that the LGBT community are customers too.
Trump also seeks to expand on the flawed logic of Hobby Lobby, He’s hoping to allow anyone who has a real or imagined “sincerely held religious belief” to refuse goods and services based on alleged beliefs. In other words, the slippery slope of racism, misogyny, homophobia disguised as religious beliefs that even Jan Brewer recognized as such will become reality if this Executive Order survives legal scrutiny.
As flawed as Hobby Lobby was, the Supreme Court did limit the ruling to “closely held corporations”. Generally, that means corporations with a limited number of shareholders and whose shares are not publicly traded. In other words, even the Roberts Court recognized the constitutional problems that go with all corporations imposing the owners’ religious beliefs on their employees. So they massaged the ruling to limit corporate religious freedom to those which are “closely held.”
It’s conceivable that Trump is hoping his boy Gorsuch will welcome the opportunity to expand corporate “religious freedom” to all corporations, whether said religious views are sincerely held, or merely more profitable.
But if we go with the existing jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, this element of the Executive Order will fail.
The final element provides Trumpist churches with assurances that they won’t lose their tax-free status when they campaign for him from the pulpit. He knows this is against the law because he intends to direct the IRS to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” That’s code for don’t prosecute right-wing Evangelicals when they break the law to promote Trump, but go after Synagogues, Mosques and Liberal Christians who may opt to preach the praises of a Democrat, or anyone who isn’t a fascist.
Of course, this runs afoul of the equality clause – in the plainest of readings.
With his popular support collapsing, Trump needs a miracle from his friends in the evangelical community. But as with his Muslim Ban and his attempt to defund Sanctuary Cities, Trump is relying here on an alternative Constitution. The real one won’t stand for any of this because his new EO has nothing to do with religion, freedom or anything resembling America.