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WASHINGTON—In response to President Trump’s dangerously broad executive order masquerading as protection of religious freedom, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the wider Reform Movement:
Today’s executive order undermines the First Amendment principles and protections that allow religious life to flourish in the United States. It also attacks reproductive rights and privileges one set of religious beliefs over all others. The Reform Movement condemns President Trump’s executive order on religious freedom issues in the strongest possible terms.
The Johnson Amendment has been a vital safeguard for the integrity of American religious institutions and the political process by defending the separation of church and state. We strongly oppose this executive order and any attempt to weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment.
Speaking truth to power is a hallmark of religious life in the United States. Clergy and communities of faith already raise our voices loudly on issues of political and social concern. The prohibition against endorsing or opposing political candidates from our pulpits simply prevents groups from being simultaneously tax-exempt ministries and partisan political outfits. Blurring that line threatens the prophetic voices of religious groups and opens the door to political coercion of houses of worship.
As people of faith, we understand that the unique American commitment to religious liberty has allowed religious freedom to flourish alongside other rights. We strongly urge President Trump to immediately rescind this executive order. We also call on Members of Congress to do everything in their power to oppose and block it and to ensure all people can access the healthcare they need.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.