The Trump administration may permit discrimination against premarital sex, same-sex marriage, trans people and abortion on religious grounds, according to a leaked draft executive order.
The four-page draft, titled "Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom," would broaden religious freedom protections to "any organisation, including closely held for-profit corporations, operated for a religious purpose, even if its purpose is not exclusively religious."
It is not clear if President Donald Trump will sign the draft, published by The Nation and The Investigative Fund.
When asked on Monday about whether a religious freedom executive order was in the works, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said: "I'm not getting ahead of the executive orders that we may or may not issue."
The draft document protects an individual or organisation that "believes, speaks, or acts (or declines to act) in accordance with the belief that marriage is or should be recognised as the union of one man and one woman, sexual relations are properly reserved for such a marriage, male and female and their equivalents refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy, physiology, or genetics at or before birth, and that human life begins at conception and merits protection at all stages of life."
The beliefs align closely with those held by many conservative and evangelical Christians.
The draft offers wholesale exemptions for individuals and organisations who claim religious objections "when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with Federal, State or local governments."
White House officials told ABC News in the US that the draft order appears to be one of hundreds currently circulating around the White House and that it may not necessarily reflect what the administration is thinking.
BREITBART EDITOR'S UNI TALK NIXED AMID PROTESTS
A crowd protesting a far-right commentator's appearance at the University of California at Berkeley hurled smoke bombs, broke windows and sparked a massive bonfire, prompting officials to call off the event.
The decision came two hours before Wednesday's talk by Milo Yiannopoulos, a polarising editor of Breitbart News, after some 1500 people had gathered outside the venue.
Trump took to Twitter on Thursday morning to comment, tweeting: "If US Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?"
Prior to the burst of violence by a small group of protesters, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators carrying signs that read "Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech" had been protesting the appearance for hours.
Yiannopoulos, a 32-year-old right-wing provocateur, is a vocal supporter of Trump and a self-proclaimed internet troll whose comments have been criticised as racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim and white supremacist.
The Greece-born, British journalist was banned from Twitter after leading a harassment campaign against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones. He is a self-proclaimed gay conservative.
His visit to Berkeley was sponsored by the campus Republican club. The university has stressed it did not invite him and does not endorse his ideas but is committed to free speech and rejected calls to cancel the event.