The White House issued guidance regarding prayer in schools, rules for agency dealings with religious organizations, and grant-making
WASHINGTON, D.C.—On January 15, which President Trump proclaimed “Religious Freedom Day,” the White House rolled out some important guidance and proposed federal rules affecting religious liberty and federal dealings with religious organizations.
Firstly, the White House announced that the Federal government would be revisiting guidelines for the Department of Education that are supposed to be updated every two years but in fact have not been revised since 2003.
The revision will make explicit that students’ First Amendment rights, including their religious freedoms, are to be respected throughout the Department of Education, and establish a procedure to reporting violations. The changes come in response to several instances of religious suppression in schools, including cases where a group of students was told they could not pray in the cafeteria for an injured classmate.
Secondly, the President’s administration issued nine proposed rules for federal agencies to remove burdens placed on religious organizations that secular non-profits do not face.
Joe Grogan, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, explained in an interview with The Daily Signal that the new rules would overturn precedents from the Obama administration:
“Basically what it said is anytime somebody goes to a faith-based organization for a service, they need to be presumed to be potentially offended by the religious nature of that organization. The religious organization needs to inform them that if they are offended by the religious nature of the organization, they can, they will find a secular organization for them to get the same service.”
Grogan pointed out that secular non-profits were not subject to similar requirements, even though their own ideological positions might be equally offensive to some clients.
Finally, the White House announced that the Office of Management and Budget would be issuing a memo to all federal agencies that provide grant money to organizations through the states that those agencies must take responsibility to ensure that they states do not administrate the funds in a way that is discriminatory against religious organizations.
Grogan described President Trump as deeply committed to allowing religious institutions in the public square: “He… thinks that religious institutions have a central role to play in America’s civic life and the private lives of Americans, too.”
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