Dr. James Dobson, president of the James Dobson Family Institute, applauded the Trump administration's efforts on Thursday to protect the constitutional right to prayer and religious expression in public schools as well as the equal treatment of religious student groups at public universities and colleges.
"The First Amendment was not designed, nor was it ever intended, to stamp out religious expression. On the contrary, it was designed to protect our first liberty. Unfortunately, government officials have increasingly bought the lie from groups such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and have worked to purge religion from the public square, demeaning the beliefs of millions of Americans in the process.
"Today, the Trump administration has announced a series of actions designed to protect – or, where necessary, restore – the freedoms of religious belief and free exercise guaranteed by the First Amendment.
"No school that receives government funding should trample on the constitutional rights of its students. Accordingly, the administration will require schools to certify, on an annual basis, that they have no policy which prevents participation in constitutionally-protected prayer or other religious expression.
"Similarly, religious student groups at public universities and colleges should receive the same benefits, privileges and rights enjoyed by other student groups. The proposed rule therefore aims to remove regulations that burden faith-based organizations or would treat them worse than other groups or individuals.
"I've lived long enough to remember well a time when public prayer was expected and appreciated, even in schools. I've also lived long enough to see the consequences of our societal disregard of the Ten Commandments and the eternal Truth they represent. For this reason, I'm greatly encouraged by the steps this administration is taking to correctly understand, restore, and preserve our constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms.
"We should celebrate the administration's vital efforts to protect our religious freedom. But such work is in vain if we don't seize the opportunity to live out our faith and thereby transform the heart of this nation."
He also commented on the rules and guidance documents issued from nine federal agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Justice, Labor, and Health and Human Services, as well as the Office of Management and Budget:
"The Trump administration has consistently taken action to protect this nation's first liberty — religious freedom. Today's announcements from nine federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget are just the latest examples. Under previous administrations, religious providers of social services were singled out and burdened with regulatory requirements not placed upon other providers. These actions are unconstitutional and in conflict with recent Supreme Court precedent.
"The proposed rules and guidance documents will help ensure that faith-based organizations are not excluded from public programs, and that religious individuals are not treated as second-class citizens. I applaud this administration for its commitment to safeguard the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Such action is long overdue."
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