Trump eases restrictions on religious groups
- Author: Zachary Reyes May 06, 2017,
May 06, 2017, 18:40
The ACLU was all set to sue President Donald Trump over his executive order "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty". The amendment, originally a part of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, prevents all 501 (c)(3) non-profit organizations from advocating for political candidates.
The 1954 Johnson Amendment restricts political activity by nonprofits, and past year on the campaign trail, Trump told a meeting of 100 evangelical and conservative Catholic leaders he would abolish that rule, at least inasmuch as it pertains to religious entities.
Technically, it would require a Congressional vote to actually repeal the Johnson Amendment itself.
"Protecting religious freedom was one of the centrepieces of President Trump's campaign".
The American Civil Liberties Union immediately vowed to sue over the executive order, which ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero described as "a broadside to our country's long-standing commitment to the separation of church and state".
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, suggested the order's provision exempting religiously affiliated companies and other groups from covering preventative care is sex discrimination.
Mr Pence, a fierce social conservative, signed a religious liberty bill during his time as governor of in, leading to a national backlash from LGBT-rights supporters and the bill's eventual revision.
The IRS doesn't make its investigations of such cases public, but only one church is known to have lost its tax-exempt status as a result of the law. The order also allows private employers who object on religious grounds to contraception to deny reproductive health care to their employees.
He said in February he would "totally destroy" the amendment.
A spokesperson for the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa told KCCI, "President Trump's executive order is risky and ill-advised for the government's interest and for houses of worship". "After careful review of the order's text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process".
"All I would say is I think we already do it", Pastor Chris Stansell of the First Christian Church said.
People are using the hashtags #LicenseToDiscriminate and #TrumpForgetsMuslimBan on Twitter to question President Trump's motives and point out that he conveniently put aside religious liberty when he signed two executive orders calling for a ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries. But entirely abolishing the regulation would take an act of Congress.