Catholics are reminding President Trump of his promise to re-establish the right of "religious freedom" to include "religious conscence."

The Obama administration angered Catholics when they learned that it was targeting such groups as the Little Sisters of the Poor. Initially, the Obama team tried to force the Little Sisters to pay for abortion-inducing drugs in their healthcare plan. Under pressure, the lawyers scaled back their demands, but they still sought to compromise the nuns by making them complicit in approving the mandate.

The most pernicious aspect of this issue is rarely discussed. Just how did the Obama administration manage to put the arm on the Little Sisters in the first place? By adopting the thinking of the ACLU.

It was the ACLU's lawyers in California who first broached the idea that a Catholic institution is not legitimately Catholic if it staffs and serves a large body of people who are not Catholic. The Obama administration, under the tutelage of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius—a rabid defender of partial-birth abortion—tailored the language of the mandate to meet that test. Therefore, because the Little Sisters do not discriminate against non-Catholics in tending to their needs, they are not considered Catholic!

In sharp contrast to his predecessor, Trump has shown himself to be religion-friendly. He needs to recognize, however, that the HHS mandate is a non-negotiable issue: If he wants to keep the support of Catholics, the HHS mandate must go.

Written by Bill Donohue,  President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.