National Review Online interviews Sen. Mike Lee about his proposed First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect from government discrimination those religious Americans who oppose gay marriage, and which Donald Trump has promised to sign if he wins the presidency.
In conjunction with his recent rollout of a Catholic advisory group, Donald Trump articulated his dedication to a number of issues of critical importance to American Catholics, including his hard-line defense of religious freedom. Among his many promises, Trump pledged to sign the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) if Congress were to pass the legislation during his presidency. The bill — co-sponsored by Republican senator Mike Lee of Utah and Representative Raul Labrador, an Idaho Republican — is narrowly tailored to protect from government discrimination those religious Americans who believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.
Lee told National Review Online that Trump would be likely to protect religious freedom more effectively than Hillary Clinton would. Speaking of Clinton’s August op-ed in Utah’s Deseret News, Lee said: “The fact that [Clinton] uses that phrase, ‘the right to worship’ . . . You know, I’m not certain what she meant by it, but sometimes when people use that term instead of referring to religious liberty or religious freedom, they’re referring to something narrower. That makes me nervous.”
The Utah senator’s comment references a common misrepresentation of religious freedom, and one that Clinton has frequently advocated: the idea that religious liberty is merely the right to worship at church or at home and not the right to live out one’s faith in the public square. “Given that [Clinton] has said some things like that, and Donald Trump hasn’t, it seems he might be better on religious freedom,” Lee added. Trump’s pledge to sign FADA seems to corroborate that possibility, if his word is to be believed.
“Religious Americans understand that there’s a lot more to being religious than attending a religious service,” Lee explained. “The American people need to have some assurance that they won’t be treated differently based on their religious beliefs. They need to be protected from retaliation by government against particular religious beliefs that the government chooses to disfavor.”