An Orthodox Jewish voter in New York questioned Donald Trump about religious liberty. Trump refused to answer his questions but hinted he is going to make a big announcement sometime soon on the subject:
QUESTIONER: I have a religious liberty question, which is of high concern for Orthodox Jews. The question now before the Supreme Court is about the denial of insurance for certain procedures – if Catholic non-profits should be allowed to refuse to give information to have women’s health care insured. But that also affects the way we lead our lives, so I want to try to pose a few instances, and I would like to know how you come down. I’m not asking a legal question –
TRUMP: No, I understand, because that’s a very long answer. Frankly we’d be here for a long time – we could be here for many years answering that one.
QUESTIONER: As most Orthodox Jews, I wear this. [presumably pointing to shtreimel or yarmulke]
QUESTIONER: This is available for sale in [inaudible]. It is made by males of the Jewish faith, and can only be made by them. Should an employer have a right to refuse to hire somebody who’s not of the Jewish faith? It’s a regular job, Social Security applies, all the laws of America apply in the employment. Should an employer be able to say, ‘You’re not Jewish, you cannot work for me making these things’?
TRUMP: Well, you know, that’s the question that’s been asked and discussed very brilliantly on many different levels over the last short period of time. And they’re usually not using that. They’re usually talking about cake stores and the pastry stores and all of the others.
QUESTIONER: It’s related to that.
TRUMP: It’s all related. And I’m going to really leave that decision to you. That’s your personal decision. What would your answer be to that question? What would your answer be?
QUESTIONER: It is a conflict between the laws of the land and the right to exercise religion.
QUESTIONER: I wouldn’t be able to exercise my religion of having only a religious Jew slaughter the animal, and that precludes non-religious Jews performing that ritual. But it is an employment issue. Should a person who is not a – my second half of the question would be, should the government, or any body, be it state or municipal, make a law saying, you have a right to practice your religion the way you see fit, but if you won’t ordain women or homosexuals, then you lose your tax-exempt status? You’re a rabbi, you won’t perform gay marriages, fine, that’s your right, but should you still retain the license –
TRUMP: And you know the whole –
QUESTIONER: – to give marriage licenses? Or take it away?
TRUMP: Right, I understand. And you know, the whole tax-exempt status for all religions – I’m not talking about – I’m not just talking about Jewish, I’m talking about Christian, I’m talking about everything. That in itself is a big subject of debate right now, because you know, who’s making the determination to take away this status? And it’s really become a very big point of discussion, and a very complex point of discussion. And it’s something that I’m very interested in and I’m really forming policy on it. So I’m gonna be announcing something –
QUESTIONER: But where is your heart?
TRUMP: – that I actually think you’re going to be very happy with, okay? We’re gonna have to go quickly, because I have got – you have no idea, you have no idea, my schedule is crazy. If I’m gonna be elected and help you people I’ve gotta do something else, okay?
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.