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Faith and Opportunity Initiative Office

The Office of the Secretaryā€™s Center for Faith & Opportunity Initiative Serves to Ensure that the Faith-Based and Community Organizations that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the Federal Government.  President Trump has signed an Executive Order entitled ā€œEstablishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiativeā€ in order to: provide recommendations on the Administrationā€™s policy agenda affecting faith-based and community programs; provide recommendations on programs and policies where faith-based and community organizations may partner and/or deliver more effective solutions to poverty; apprise the Administration of any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under law; and reduce the burdens on the exercise of free religion. PRIORITIZING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: President Trump has made it clear that religious freedom is a priority throughout his Administration.  ONE NATION UNDER GOD: President Trump has publicly stood with people of faith and with those who advocate for the sanctity of life.  See Fact Sheets. 

President Trump has signed an Executive Order entitled ā€œEstablishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiativeā€ in order to: provide recommendations on the Administrationā€™s policy agenda affecting faith-based and community programs;

America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer.
President Donald J. Trump

FACT SHEETS

Issued on: May 3, 2018
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President Trump has signed an Executive Order entitled ā€œEstablishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiativeā€ in order to:

  • provide recommendations on the Administration's policy agenda affecting faith-based and community programs;
  • provide recommentations on programs and policies where faith-based and community organizations may partner and/or deliver more effective solutionsto poverty;
  • apprise the Administration of any failures of the executive branch to comply with religious liberty protections under law; and

The Executive Order creates the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative within the Executive Office of the President.

  • The Initiative will be led by the newly created position of Advisor to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative (Initiative) and be supported by experts and various community and faith leaders from outside of the Federal Government.
  • All executive departments and agencies that do not have Centers for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives will designate a liaison to the Initiative.

PRIORITIZING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: President Trump has made it clear that religious freedom is a priority throughout his Administration.  Contact us with any questions or concerns!

  • In October 2017, the Department of Justice issued twenty principles of religious liberty to guide the Administrationā€™s litigation strategy and protect religious freedom.
  • In January 2018, the Justice Department announced a religious liberty update to the U.S. Attorneysā€™ Manual, raising the profile of religious liberty cases and directing the designation of a Religious Liberty Point of Contact for all U.S.Attorneyā€™s offices.
  • In January 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced major policy changes protecting freedom of religion inside andoutside of the government:
  • forming a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, providing HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existinglaws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom; and
  • proposing to more vigorously enforce twenty-five existing statutory conscience protections for Americans involved in HHS programs, in order toprotect Americans who have religious or moral convictions related to certain health care services.

 

Faith and Opportunity Initiative Policy Guidance

Executive Order 13831 Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty

HUDs Rule/Guidance on Equal Participation of FB orgs in HUD Programs/Activities.  EO 13831 struck Section 2(h) of 13279, as Amended to be EO 13559, and Amended said orders.  New guidance will get issued as HUD conforms itsā€™ Rules to the new EO.  

ā€œThe Memorandum for all Executive Departments and Agenciesā€ by the Attorney General, October 6, 2017, on the Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty.   As explained therein, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, (RFRA) and as Amended by Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), 114 Stat. 803, 42 U.S.C. Ā§2000cc, protects religious practice, and, burdens on the practice are subject to strict scrutiny review.  And it states that ā€œreligious organizations are entitled to compete on equal footing for federal financial assistance used to support government programs.ā€  (See AG Memo. at par. 20.) 

New religious-liberty protections for Federal contractors got issued by the Department of Labor, which oversees Federal contracting policy for the entire Federal government. 

Summary: An Obama-era Executive order to Federal contractors allowed contractors an exception to Federal non-discrimination policy to hire same-religion personnel, but did not allow potential Federal contractors of a religious nature to impose belief and conduct statements on their employees. This bar deterred many potential Federal contracts of a religious character from competing for/receiving Federal contracts. 

On August 10, OFCCP released Directive 2018-03, which reinterpreted Obama-era guidance in light of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and Supreme Court precedent (specifically, Hobby Lobby, Masterpiece Cakeshop and Trinity Lutheran), to allow belief and conduct stipulations on employees. The directive also reiterates that Federal staff should ensure a level playing field for potential contractors of a religious nature, approach them "non-judgmentally" with respect to their religious nature, and comply with RFRA and other laws. You can read the full directive at the link.  https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/faqs/ReligiousEmployersExemption.htm