Trump Rolls Back Religious Equality for Millions of Vulnerable Social Service Recipients
The Trump administration is gearing up to help nine federal agencies roll back regulations for faith-based service providers, opening the door to government-sponsored discrimination against some of our country’s most vulnerable people.
The Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health & Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing & Urban Development, Justice, Labor, USAID and Veterans Affairs are issuing proposed regulations that would remove requirements for faith-based service organizations to separate their religious programs from their taxpayer-funded work. They would no longer have to give participants notice of their rights or make a reasonable effort to refer people to alternative providers if they are uncomfortable with the faith-based components of the program.
Under these regulations, senior citizens could be forced to pray to get a meal at a senior center, a young LGBTQ person who is experiencing homelessness might have to join religious activities to get counseling, or unaccompanied minors may have to attend church to receive refugee assistance.
Back in 2001,President George W. Bush first created the Faith-Based Initiative to empower and expand the work of faith-based organizations and strip away key federal protections when providing services to people in need, including:
- Making it easier to proselytize to those seeking their services
- Authorizing government-funded religious groups to discriminate in hiring
- Rolling back decades of federal civil rights laws
- Undermining anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people
Then in 2015, the Obama administration issued critical reforms, clarifying that taxpayer funding to faith-based providers cannot:
- Fund religious content such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization
- Discriminate against those seeking services because of their religion or religious beliefs
- Require those seeking services to attend or participate in any religious activity
- Favor religion and involve partisan politics
While the Trump administration's proposed regulations are not yet public, we know this is yet another example of the Trump administration pandering to his evangelical base who want to misuse religious freedom to harm others.