ADL Calls White House Executive Order on "Faith and Opportunity" a Step Backwards for Religious Liberty

New York, NY, May 3, 2018 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called President Trump’s Executive Order on the “White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative” a step backwards for religious liberty. ADL is deeply concerned that the Order rolls back critical constitutional safeguards against religious coercion in federally funded social services and other programs.  

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:

ADL has a deep appreciation for the vital role religious institutions have historically played in addressing many of our nation’s most pressing social needs. But today’s Executive Order is a step backwards for religious liberty.  It rolls back constitutional safeguards against religious coercion in federally funded programs.

The faith-based initiative established by Presidential Executive Order in 2001 fundamentally altered the relationship between government and faith-based organizations, and opened the door to proselytizing in government-funded social welfare programs and religious discrimination in hiring and firing within taxpayer-funded programs. The Obama Administration addressed many of these problems.  Through Executive Order, and regulations crafted by a diverse group of faith leaders and experts, it put in place constitutional safeguards protecting the religious freedom of program beneficiaries and autonomy of faith-based providers.

Today’s Order, however, puts America’s most vulnerable citizens at risk of choosing between accessing essential, taxpayer-funded social services and being subject to unwanted proselytizing or religious activity.  And it requires faith-based and other government-funded social service providers to comply with the Attorney General’s October 2017 guidance on religious liberty, which we characterized as a “roadmap for discrimination.” That is wrong and antithetical to religious freedom in America.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.