Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)'s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), released a statement on February 3 urging President Trump to sign an executive order that would protect religious freedom.
The statement came in response to a draft of an executive order titled 'Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom' that was leaked and reported by The Nation and The Investigative Fund. If signed, the executive order would protect religious freedom in various aspects, including "when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments."
"I urge the president to move forward with his plans to issue an executive order that would grant protections to people of faith, allowing believers with strong, and sometimes unpopular, convictions to serve the public," Moore said.
Moore added that legislative action is also needed but "this executive order would be a strong start."
"Freedom of conscience and religious liberty are of utmost importance to us, and to millions of other religious people in the United States. We support an executive order making clear that people of religious conviction will not be pushed aside by the federal government as we seek to serve our neighbors, including those who disagree with us," said Moore.
Meanwhile, the leaked draft of the executive order was met with both support and criticism. Jenny Pizer, senior counsel of Lambda Legal, told The Nation that the order would provide "a license to discriminate with public money in a series of contexts in which people tend to be vulnerable.
Representatives from the White House told ABC News that hundreds of executive orders are drafted by different individuals, including some that are written by outside groups, and only few are signed.
"We do not have plans to sign anything at this time but will let you know when we have any updates," Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokesperson, told ABC.