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Trump Administration Takes 3 Steps to Boost Religious Freedom

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17.01.2020

“There’s a lot of hostility to religious beliefs,” says Joe Grogan, director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House.

“These views are protected by the First Amendment and people who are offended by public expressions of faith need to get over it,” he adds.

In this exclusive interview at the White House, Grogan outlines what the Trump administration is doing to ensure Americans remain free to live in accordance with their beliefs. Read the lightly edited transcript, pasted below, or listen to the interview:

Rob Bluey: The Daily Signal is on location at the White House today, just moments after President [Donald] Trump’s Religious Freedom Day announcements. We’re joined by Joe Grogan, director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House.

Joe, thanks for talking to The Daily Signal.

Joe Grogan: Thanks for having me.

Bluey: We had some big developments happening in Washington this week. President Trump signed Phase 1 of the trade deal with China, and the U.S. Congress just passed today the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is headed to the president’s desk now for his signature.

But let’s begin with the Religious Freedom Day announcements. … There are three of them, and let’s take them one at a time. We can start with prayer in school.

Grogan: Sure. I actually just left a meeting in the Oval Office. He had a bunch of students and teachers and a coach in there, all of whom had been discriminated against in public schools for expressing their faith.

The coach had been fired. … There were a group of students that were told they couldn’t pray in the cafeteria for a brother of one of the students who had been in a tractor accident, and … they’d been told, “You have to take this behind a curtain or go outside, out of sight. We can’t have anybody expressing their faith in public.”

What we’re doing is we’re updating a guidance that was supposed to be updated every two years by law and hadn’t been updated since 2003, and making it explicit that students have First Amendment rights, including religious freedoms.

They have the right to express their religious beliefs openly, publicly, and if they are discriminated against or they perceive they are, the education officials in every state need to set up a procedure for them to be able to complain.

And those complaints need to be adjudicated in some way. The education official needs to inform the Department of Education how they adjudicate these claims and what they’re doing to make sure that religious beliefs are protected.

There’s a lot of hostility to religious beliefs. There’s a perception that people who express their religious beliefs somehow may be offending others who don’t have those beliefs, but it’s clearly discriminatory. These views are protected by the First Amendment and people who are offended by public expressions of faith need to get over it.

These students and teachers need to be able to, on their own time, say that they believe in God, whether they be Jewish, or Christian, or Muslim, or whatever faith that they ascribe to.

"Students and teachers and education institutions have First Amendment rights just like anybody else, including the freedom to pray and worship at their own direction." — @joegrogan45 pic.twitter.com/PyGpdA3RrY

Bluey: Those personal stories have such an impact. We tend to cover a lot of them at The Daily Signal, and they are often some of our most popular stories, I think, because they don’t get the attention that they deserve in other media outlets.

The second on the list is nine........

© The Daily Signal