Not Even Evangelicals Support Trump’s ‘Religious Liberty’ Order

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that seeks to "vigorously protect religious liberty," even if a majority of religious Americans disagree

President Trump signs executive order on promoting free speech and religious liberty — Getty Images
May 04, 2017 at 5:29 PM ET

On Thursday, President Donald Trump, who was impatiently waiting on what would be a big win on health care later in the afternoon, signed an executive order intended to “vigorously protect religious liberty.” Yet, more than two-thirds of religious Americans think the order, which would loosen the laws surrounding political activity of tax-exempt churches and limit the enforcement of mandated contraceptive coverage by employers, would do the opposite.

No matter how Americans identify politically, religious citizens on both sides of the aisle are overwhelmingly against the provisions outlined in Trump’s executive order, according to a survey released on Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit research organization.

The results, which stem from a February survey of data collected from more than 45,000 interviews conducted last year, show that 71 percent of religious Americans polled are against allowing churches and places of religious worship to endorse political candidates while keeping their tax-exempt status. This dwarfs the 22 percent that approves of it.

When digging into the different Christian denominations, perhaps the most surprising finding comes from the 56 percent of white evangelical Protestants that oppose the measure, compared to the 36 percent that are for it.

Similar sentiments were echoed in response to the president limiting the enforcement of employers to provide mandated contraceptive coverage on religious grounds. More than two-thirds of those polled were in favor of employers providing contraception or birth control at no cost. More than 80 percent of religiously unaffiliated people polled agreed, leading the charge among all major religious groups.