HLI Statement on PP Defunding and Religious Freedom Executive Order

HLI President Father Shenan J. Boquet issued the following statement on two breaking news stories: the passage by the House of Representatives of a bill that many believe would remove most of Planned Parenthood’s funding for one year, and the signing of an Executive Order by President Trump that is billed as a strong defense of religious freedom.

We welcome the bill passed by the House of Representatives, which many believe will remove most funding for fake and destructive “women’s health” clinics like Planned Parenthood, that commit abortions. We thank those congressmen who fought to see funding for abortion removed from the revised health care plan, and who saw that this money was redirected to actual health clinics that don’t kill people. This is a good first step toward defunding Planned Parenthood domestically, and we pray that the Senate also support the pro-life fixes to health care policy. We will also continue to support all efforts to permanently remove all funding from abortion committing groups.

It is hard to miss the politics of nearly simultaneous actions from the government, however, both of which have great importance for life, family, and religious freedom in the United States. The second action was the signing of a “Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” by President Trump. Reading the text, and considering the fact that it was timed to be signed at a moment when attention would be focused on the House AHCA bill, it is not clear that this is the executive order that Christians facing legal persecution in this country were hoping for. We welcome the provision that would protect the political speech of religious groups, but the greatest threat we face today is from a judiciary and various governmental bodies who have decided to rewrite the First Amendment to exclude the fundamental right to religious expression and beliefs. The Order seems ambiguous on the nature of the threat we face today, so we will pay close attention as it guides the actions of the Executive Branch.

HLI’s position on these issues is unchanged. The government must oppose, not support, any action that harms innocent human life, and must absolutely not force those opposed to participate in immoral actions through taxpayer funding. And religious groups have an unalienable right—recognized by, not created by, the Bill of Rights—to free exercise of religion. This same right protects the consciences of all who conduct business and deserve to not be forced into participating in events or actions that they oppose on religious and moral grounds. To the extent that these actions protect innocent life and religious freedom, they are to be welcomed, though means must be found to make them permanent.

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