At Thursday’s press briefing, one of the topics addressed by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, both indirectly and directly, was the leaked draft of an upcoming executive order from President Donald Trump titled “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom.” Asked about how “religious liberty” (a topic discussed in Trump’s prayer breakfast speech today, is often seen as a dog whistle for discrimination in 2017 America) was specifically viewed by Trump, Spicer gave a couple answers but also wavered a bit.
“I think there is a line,” Spicer said. “We have freedom of religion in this country, and I think people should be able to practice their religion, express their religion, express areas of their faith without reprisal. And I think that pendulum, sometimes, swings the other way in the name of political correctness. And I think the president and vice president both understand that what makes this country and our democracy so great is our ability to express our religion, to believe in faith, and to live by it.”
Spicer added that “the important part is” that small business owners and employees can “have an expression of faith at the company” without “those voices get[ting] pushed out in the name of political correctness.” He also tried to stress that the administration wanted to “make sure the pendulum doesn’t swing” too far against religious freedom but that “we shouldn’t impose a religion on anybody.” Asked for an example of “the pendulum swinging in the direction of political correctness,” Spicer cited the Supreme Court cases dealing with religious objections to contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Spicer refused to acknowledge if the leaked executive order draft was legitimate, essentially saying that various orders were being discussed but that they weren’t confirmed until they were signed. To hear his full comments, check out the video clip embedded above, via CNN.
[Photo: CNN screen grab]
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