May 11, 2017
FRC confident complaint filed by meat packing business will be resolved in light of new policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council offered praise for a new policy statement issued by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that reestablishes the "Department's commitment to safeguarding every American's First Amendment rights, particularly the right to free speech and the right to free religious exercise." The secretary goes further to say that "each and every USDA employee" is expected to uphold these freedoms and "doing so is not optional, and it is not discretionary." The statement pledges to foster a "climate of mutual respect and tolerance."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:
"I commend Secretary Perdue for his commitment to safeguard not just our food quality but also the First Amendment freedoms of every American.
"Under the last administration, the commitment to religious freedom was sorely lacking, and often undermined by regulations and guidelines across much of the government, including the USDA. Sadly, those Obama era policies continue to be used by some in the federal bureaucracy to censor and threaten people like the Vander Boon family who own a Michigan meat packing facility. Eighteen months ago, the USDA threatened to shut the family's business down, displacing 45 employees, if they place religious material concerning marriage in the breakroom of the business.
"However, last Thursday, President Trump took the first step to provide relief for people like the Vander Boons when he signed an executive order defending religious liberty. This order made the important clarification of current laws that religious freedoms extend to the public square, not just one's place of worship. The order is now beginning to make its way through the Department of Agriculture and all the federal government agencies.
"Family Research Council will work with the administration to ensure the practical effect of this policy protects the First Freedoms of Americans like Don Vander Boon. In light of Secretary Perdue's policy statement reestablishing respect for free speech and religious freedom, I am very optimistic that the Vander Boon's complaint against the USDA will be resolved in a positive manner that fully respects the First Amendment.
"It is refreshing to have a president and administration that recognizes and understands the dangers of the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and are therefore committed to undo those policies and restoring true religious freedom. No American -- Christian or otherwise -- should have to choose between their careers and their faith," concluded Perkins.
Video: Tony Perkins interviews Don Vander Boon
Secretary Perdue policy statement:
Alliance Defending Freedom's backgrounder on the case: