Grading Clinton, Trump on religious freedom

Friday, May 6, 2016
Chad Groening, Steve Jordahl (

Hillary Clinton and Donald TrumpImpressions are mixed regarding the level of support a President Donald Trump would give to efforts to strengthen religious freedom. But a Christian radio talk-show host says there's little doubt how a President Hillary Clinton would handle it.

Sandy Rios is director of governmental affairs at the American Family Association and host of a daily call-in program on American Family Radio. Rios predicts "more overt persecution" and "a loss of religious freedom" for Christians should Clinton move into the Oval Office – and be given the opportunity to stack the Supreme Court with liberal jurists.

"The next president will likely appoint three new justices," she begins. "And that means that the whole business of expressing our deeply held beliefs – in our businesses and our private entities like the American Family Association, like Christian radio – and ... our conduct and even our thoughts will be criminalized. So it's pretty bleak."

Sandy RiosBut Rios isn't so sure about Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. "I think he would not be aggressive in the way she is to criminalize [religious expression]," she offers, "but the question is how hard he would fight to protect religious freedom – and that's the question mark with Donald Trump."

In contrast, any concerns the American Principles Project may have had about Trump regarding religious freedom were alleviated long before the other 16 GOP hopefuls dropped out.

Late last year, APP asked for and received a response from Trump on his support of the First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802), which forbids the government from taking any punitive action against anyone because they have a religious conviction favoring traditional marriage.

Stand Up for Religious Freedom

Trump told the group in a letter that he cannot pass legislation, but if Congress considers it a priority, he'd be glad to sign it. To American Principles spokesman Terry Schilling, that's good enough.

"He pledged to sign the First Amendment Defense Act into law," he says in reference to the letter – which this week was cited in what APP calls a "blitzkrieg of misinformation and propaganda" dispatched by the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign.

Trump's letter also listed several of his most pressing priorities and said protecting citizen's rights was "in the mix." The letter did not bear his signature but had his name typed in at the bottom.

OneNewsNow pointed out to Schilling that Trump at one point supported North Carolina's pro-family law on bathroom access for transgender people.

"This isn't the first time that Donald Trump has misspoken on issues or has said something," the APP spokesman responds. "I don't think it's due to anything but a lack of knowledge and a lack of researching these issues."

Freedom of Religion buttonWhen asked about his energetic support of Trump despite such a tepid response to a core conservative principle, Schilling gave a similar answer voiced by other ardent supporters of the billionaire:

"I think that his passion is there and he's willing to fight – and that's really what we need in 2016, is a fighter."

And besides, says Schilling, it's better than the alternative. "I understand that some people can have doubts about what he's actually going to do, but where there is no doubt is what Hillary Clinton is going to do."

Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates


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