Hours after his impeachment trial formally begins, President Donald Trump will celebrate “National Religious Freedom Day” with an event in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon featuring school-age children.
In conjunction with the event, the administration plans to unveil new guidance affirming school prayer, as well as several administrative rules protecting churches and religious organizations.
POLITICO reports: States would be required to report instances in which the right to pray has been denied in public schools under new guidance on religious freedom to be rolled out Thursday by the administration, as President Donald Trump works to bolster his backing among evangelicals following calls for his removal by a leading Christian magazine. Separately, the administration in a proposed rule is also moving to protect the rights of religious student groups at public universities, senior officials said on a call with reporters Thursday morning. “This places religious student groups on equal footing with secular student groups at public institutions of higher education,” an official said, speaking on background.
More from BuzzFeed News: “Religious freedom” has become a tool-of-choice for the Trump administration to enact numerous new policies that allow discrimination in the name of constitutionally protected beliefs and cut loopholes in federal civil rights policies. In 2019, for example, the Department of Labor proposed a regulation to let businesses with federal contracts cite religious objections as a valid reason to discriminate against their workers on the basis of LGBTQ status, sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other characteristics. The same year, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights said it would allow faith-based foster care and adoption agencies receive federal funds funds, even if they refuse same-sex parents.