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William

Trump eases ban on political activity by churches

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President Trump signed an executive order Thursday making it easier for churches and other religious groups to engage in politics without endangering their tax-exempt status.

 

Trump approved the measure in the Rose Garden at the White House surrounded by clergy and leaders of faith organizations during a National Day of Prayer event.

 

“Today my administration is leading by example as we take historic steps to protect religious liberty in the United States of America,” the president said. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”

 

The measure is designed to ease enforcement of a provision in the federal tax code known as the Johnson Amendment that bars religious institutions from endorsing or opposing political candidates and parties. It directs the IRS to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion” of the amendment, according to the White House.

 

Additionally, it orders regulatory relief for those who object to ObamaCare’s preventive service mandate on religious grounds.

 

Trump is fulfilling a promise he made to social conservatives, who strongly backed him during the 2016 campaign. Those groups have long argued that the Johnson Amendment violates their First Amendment rights.

 

Scrapping the amendment was a major rallying cry for Trump on the campaign trail and he made it one of his earliest promises once he took office.

 

“Under my administration, free speech does not end at the steps of a cathedral or synagogue or any other house of worship,” Trump said. “We are giving our churches their voices back, we are giving them back in their highest form.”

 

“I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” Trump said at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, less than two weeks after his inauguration.

 

Many Republican lawmakers have also called for repeal of the Johnson Amendment, and doing so was part of the 2016 GOP party platform.

 

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) said at House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Thursday that the Johnson Amendment has had a "chilling effect through fear and intimidation from IRS threats."

 

Hice has introduced legislation to allow churches and other nonprofits to engage in political activity as long as it's in the normal course of business. He said he appreciates Trump's executive order, but added that "it's time that we rid our nation of this unconstitutional law by way of legislative action."

 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has expressed his intention to include repeal of the amendment in tax-reform legislation that his committee is preparing.

 

"I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to eliminate the damaging effects of the Johnson Amendment," he said in a statement.

 

But the Democrats as well as some charities and religious groups have been fighting for the Johnson Amendment to be preserved. They argue that churches already can engage in some political activities and that easing the Johnson Amendment would politicize nonprofits and increase the use of “dark money” in politics.

 

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) said at the Oversight hearing that Trump's executive order will have "little effect," because the "IRS rarely brings enforcement actions against houses of worship that engage in political activity."

 

Several groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Public Citizen, said they intend to sue the administration over the order.

 

"President Trump’s efforts to promote religious freedom are thinly-veiled efforts to unleash his conservative religious base into the political arena while also using religion to discriminate," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero. "It’s a dual dose of pandering to a base and denying reproductive care. We will see Trump in court, again.”

 

Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said that "This executive order may go down in history as the Citizens United of church/state separation in the context of political spending."

 

"We are quickly reviewing the terms of the executive order, which we believe is not legally valid, and plan promptly to sue to block its implementation," he added.

 

Some social conservatives voiced frustration the order does not include provisions to allow them to oppose LGBT rights on religious grounds.

 

Civil rights groups earlier this week were gearing up for a battle if those provisions were included.

 

Source: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/331902-trump-eases-ban-on-political-activity-by-churches

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Now this should allow us to fight on an ideological front against political correctness and moral depravity. Let the voice of America's conscience once again ring!

 

God bless,

William

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People are kind of missing the point. Christians have always had the "right" to disagree with views to which they are opposed, this is saying the requirements of a religious organization to stay out of politics is being pulled back. Though, there is going to be a bit of a fight over this, and am concerned some overzealous pastors might overstep some bounds before things shake out of this. Pastors, and leaders of religious organizations should still be very careful about their official positions.

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People are kind of missing the point. Christians have always had the "right" to disagree with views to which they are opposed, this is saying the requirements of a religious organization to stay out of politics is being pulled back. Though, there is going to be a bit of a fight over this, and am concerned some overzealous pastors might overstep some bounds before things shake out of this. Pastors, and leaders of religious organizations should still be very careful about their official positions.

 

I have read over the past couple of years churches that have been audited and even required to turn in sermons to not only the IRS but Government officials in the state of Texas because of charges of hate speech. I doubt our church will speak about political issues from the Pulpit, much to my dismay. Old Testament Prophets addressed not only the citizens but also a nation as a whole. I think there is a need for practical application of a sermon concerning today's current events. But I betcha most Pastors will start sounding like Theonomist!

 

God bless,

William

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Our church has not problem with speaking about homosexuality and abortion, but the rest of it is pretty much left alone.

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