By Will Hall, Baptist Message executive editor
WASHINGTON (LBM) – Newly sworn in President Joe Biden is on a record pace for signing executive orders, nearly doubling (22) the first week mandates issued by the last seven presidents before him, combined (13), according to the Federal Register.
But, more importantly, at least two of the mandates are controversial, with one negatively impacting Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex” in education programs, a law which has been essential in elevating women’s sports in schools; and another that eviscerates protections of the unborn to people of color abroad, by rescinding what is known as the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited foreign aid from being spent on performing or promoting abortions.
Specifically, EO 13988 mandates that biological males who identify themselves as transgender — without having hormone treatments or other medical procedures — be allowed to compete against biological girls, stating these transgender athletes cannot be denied “access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports” of girls.
A corollary action, EO 14004, overturned a previous military policy that prevented the recruiting of transgenders as well as banned the use of federal funds to pay for sex reassignment surgery. Now, transgender military members may wear male or female attire. Likewise, they are eligible to have controversial medical procedures despite research showing such “transitioning” efforts do not work in terms of providing the mental health improvements sought.
Meanwhile, in a memorandum to agency heads, the president revoked the Mexico City Policy — first implemented by Ronald Reagan in 1984 and expanded by Donald Trump in 2017 – to remove any pro-life conditions to foreign aid provided via non-governmental organizations. Additionally, he withdrew the United States from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a 2020 document signed by 34 countries that promoted pro-family policies worldwide.
According to the Baptist Press, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention described Biden’s executive actions as “a mixed bag,” calling some of the policies “praiseworthy, as they accord with the convictions and biblical principles of Southern Baptists,” but conceding that “some of the administrative actions raise concerns.”
Specifically, the ERLC opposed Biden’s LGBT order expanding protections for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” beyond employment which creates “a host of civil liberty problems.” Likewise, the ERLC rejected Biden’s freeze on any Trump Administration regulations that had not yet taken effect, citing concerns that the move would affect a policy that protected faith-based child-welfare providers. Additionally, the ERLC strongly objected to Biden’s rescission of the Mexico City Policy.
However, the ERLC supported Biden’s Jan. 12 memorandum to governmental departments requiring them “to preserve and fortify DACA,” a 2012 immigration policy (Obama/Biden), “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” Applicants must meet age, continuous residency and education or military requirements, as well as not pose a risk to public safety or national security. On ERLC.com, the SBC public policy arm said that it “has long advocated for our government to provide a permanent solution for this special category of immigrants,” arguing that in 2018 SBC messengers “explicitly urged Congress to develop a ‘just and compassionate path to legal status’ for undocumented immigrants already living in our country.”
However, the ERLC failed to note that in that 2018 SBC resolution, in the language immediately preceding the call for a “just and compassionate path to legal status,” there was a demand for “an emphasis on securing our borders.” Likewise, the ERLC did not acknowledge that Southern Baptists addressed
immigration in two other resolutions, urging the federal government to “enforce all immigration laws” (2006) and asking government authorities to secure the borders before addressing the issue of legal status as well as calling for appropriate restitution from any illegal immigrant seeking legal status (2011). Moreover, the 2018 resolution repeated a statement in the 2011 resolution that “this resolution is not to be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant” – an emphasis that was not mentioned by the ERLC.
The ERLC also lauded Biden’s lifting of a Trump Administration travel ban that initially blocked seven countries, but eventually was expanded to prohibit travelers from 13 nations.
“The ERLC welcomes this action as Southern Baptist’s commitment to welcoming the stranger has long been reflected in the SBC’s resolutions about those fleeing persecution in their home countries,” the SBC entity wrote.
However, the same 2016 SBC resolution referenced by the ERLC also expressly called on “governing authorities to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm … .”
The Trump travel ban, described by the ERLC as a “Muslim ban,” was specifically implemented in 2017 against countries that lacked adequate control of government travel documents; failed to share critical information about its citizens such as criminal history or terrorist links; or, deemed to be safe havens for terrorists, according to government documents. In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the travel ban, saying President Trump had acted within his authority to protect national security, and dismissed claims of religious bias in the order.