For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
May 03, 2018
President Trump’s executive order establishing a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative includes a stealth feature that would make it much harder for people to obtain federally funded social services from an organization that doesn’t have religious ties, says the nonprofit Center for Inquiry, a group that advances reason, science, and secularism in public policy.
The Trump executive order repeals essential protections granted to nonreligious people under the previous administration, eliminating the right of an alternative referral for anyone who objects to receiving taxpayer-funded social services from a religiously affiliated provider.
Trump’s executive order also removes the responsibility from federal agencies administering the taxpayer funds to ensure that nonreligious providers are an option when one is requested by a client.
“The Trump administration has once again announced its contempt for the separation of church and state,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “Taxpayer funded social service contracts will go to religious groups – that’s not new – but now, someone who would rather not get their substance abuse treatment or poverty assistance services under a cross, a Star of David, or a star and crescent, will have no choice.
“President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been pushing to let religiously affiliated entities dole out services in accordance with their own restrictive religious dogmas, even when those services are paid for with tax dollars,” Little said. “If that is allowed, the LGBTQ community could be denied healthcare and other services. LGBTQ taxpayers would be paying for programs they couldn’t access. This would enshrine discrimination and bigotry under the guise of religious freedom.”
“This executive order, coming as part of the White House’s unconstitutional participation in the National Day of Prayer, represents another step in fulfilling this administration’s pledge to repay the electoral support of evangelical Christians,” said Robyn Blumner, CFI’s President and CEO. “Trump once again calls America ‘a nation of believers,’ ignoring the large and growing number of Americans who have moved away from identifying with religious faith groups. This announcement seeks to take taxpayer money away from organizations who serve the community as a whole, and direct it to those who have narrower beliefs about who is worthy to receive public services.”
“CFI will continue its fight to ensure that non-believers receive fair treatment from this administration, and that religious groups are not unconstitutionally privileged,” Blumner added.
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net.