Statement on Freedom of Religion

The many active rabbis who are members of TORA (Traditional Orthodox Rabbis of America), congratulate President-elect Donald Trump on his victory, and pray that he leads the United States to years of peace and prosperity.

We note that during the election campaign, President-elect Trump voiced great support for the freedom of religion  – one of the cornerstones of liberty –  and expressed deep concern over encroachments on that freedom in the last decade.

Too frequently in recent years, religious individuals have found their personal rights curtailed, and religious leaders, including Orthodox Rabbis, fear that they are vulnerable to litigation and prosecution for adhering to their religious conscience.

Protecting the right to live by religious principle – particularly the right of those whose principles do not coincide with the majority – has a storied place in our country – in both its earliest history, and its legal commitment ever since.

On numerous issues, the swift changes sweeping through our society, often imposed by the courts or administrative regulations, have impacted religious freedom. Defenses of alternative sexual lifestyles, “gender fluidity,” euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, abortion on demand, and even rights of free speech and expression have engendered coercive measures that threaten to compel many religious Americans to violate their religious principles. Various agencies and groups have demanded participation in activities that violate the consciences of large numbers of Americans. In other cases, the threat of punitive legal action intimidates those who would even verbally express their opposition.

Looming large is the recent report by the US Civil Rights Commission that called exemptions for religious conscience a threat to the civil rights of others, rather than recognize religious freedom as one of the most important treasures of our American way.

Like tens of millions of other Americans, we believe that G-d’s program for Man is not arbitrary. It brings meaning and purpose to society, and stability to the family – an institution that is central to its success. The laws of the Torah are not subject to suspension or modification because societal values have suddenly changed.

While Jews do not wish to impose the values of the Torah on the general society, we cannot retreat from our responsibility to protect our right to own such values, and to share them with like-minded Americans who strive to incorporate Divine guidance into their daily lives.

We look forward to working with President-elect Trump, and pray that G-d grant him the strength, good health, and perseverance to deal with the many issues that confront our great American society.