- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2018

President Trump said in a religious freedom proclamation Tuesday that the government shouldn’t force Americans to choose between their faith and the law, whether they are “a nun, nurse, baker or business owner.”

“Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification,” the president said. “These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy.”

The Supreme Court last month heard arguments in the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, saying expressing support for same-sex marriage would clash with his religious faith. The couple filed a complaint with the state’s civil-rights commission, saying they were humiliated by the baker’s refusal to serve them.

A ruling by the high court is pending.

In his proclamation, the president noted that he signed an executive order soon after taking office to “ensure Americans are able to follow their consciences without undue government interference.”

“No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the [tenets] of faith or adherence to the law,” the president said.

He said the U.S. will continue to champion religious freedom around the world, “because we do not believe that conscience rights are only for Americans.”

“We will continue to condemn and combat extremism, terrorism, and violence against people of faith, including genocide waged by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims,” Mr. Trump said. “We will be undeterred in our commitment to monitor religious persecution and implement policies that promote religious freedom. Through these efforts, we strive for the day when people of all faiths can follow their hearts and worship according to their consciences.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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