With his Religious Freedom executive order on Thursday, President Trump chose to champion the grievances of the “most defended humans on Earth,” argues Nina Burleigh—white Christians in America. Before signing the order, Trump proclaimed to the audience, “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced ever again.”
“According to PRRI, a nonpartisan national polling and research organization, only three religious groups—Mormons, white Evangelical Protestants and Jehovah’s Witnesses—oppose gay marriage, and together those religions comprise only 19 percent of American religious people,” notes Burleigh.
Trump pandered to Evangelicals right from the start during his campaign, and won their allegiance by by picking Mike Pence as his running mate. Since his election, Trump has appointed nine Evangelicals to his cabinet, including Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, and CIA Director, Mike Pompeo.
“The order would allow a billionaire to funnel money through a religious organization, it would be secret, the group would never have to disclose it, and the billionaire donor would get a tax write-off,” says Aaron Scherb, legislative affairs director for Common Cause.
But Trump’s executive order’s real appeal to Republicans and Evangelicals alike is its instruction to the IRS to thwart the Johnson Amendment—a law that expressly forbids religious institutions from giving money to political candidates, which has been on the books for over 60 years.