Trump signs executive order to promote religious liberty

A Wisconsin-based atheist group has filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to strike down President Donald Trump's order easing enforcement of an IRS rule limiting religious organizations' political activity. The order directs the Department of Treasury to "not use adverse action" against churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations that dip into political speech.

Boston: President Donald Trump's executive order on Thursday making it easier for churches to dabble in politics kept faith with his promise to evangelical Christians who helped him win the White House, but could end up benefiting his opponents as well.

Jewish groups largely came out against a new executive order allowing clergy to endorse or oppose candidates from the pulpit, fearing that it will erode the separation between church and state.

Another aspect of the order is a weakening of what Trump called the "unfair" Johnson Amendment during the May 4 event.

The order also offers unspecified "regulatory relief" to groups - such as the Little Sisters of the Poor - that faced fines and other repercussions for defying an Obamacare mandate to provide contraceptives to their employees. "It does not protect religious businesses across the country, does not build a wall around the First Amendment, and doesn't even win Trump points with the mainstream media".

Religious discrimination is barred by the US Constitution.

Instead, the order prevents the IRS from expanding its restrictions on political activity by religious groups.

Several religious leaders who supported Trump praised the order as a first step in what would be a lengthy, hard process of reworking a web of regulations that many religious conservatives consider unfair.

The order did not match a broader, much more detailed draft leaked earlier this year that included provisions on conscience protection for faith-based ministries, schools and federal workers across an array of agencies.

"Evangelicals emphasize evangelism, and pastors often avoid controversies that might take priority over the gospel message", said NAE President Leith Anderson in a statement about the poll. " Therein, I said I thought this law against political endorsements was good for religious organizations and thus churches".

"WE NEED SOME STATUTES, WE NEED SOME LAWSTODAY TO PROTECT THE FIRSTAMENDMENT" Bob Vander Plaats the President of The Family Leader in Urbandale - saysPresident Trump signing thisexecutive order is a step in theright direction.

That vaguery ultimately led to the American Civil Liberties Union dropping its original threat to sue Trump over the executive order.

"President Trump's prior assertion that he wished to "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment with this order has proven to be a textbook case of 'fake news'". "No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the American government and the tenets of their faith".

Other Baptists, however, see the effort to weaken the "Johnson Amendment" as problematic. "Mr. President, we're going to be your most loyal friends", Jeffress said at the dinner.

Evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders, as well as a prominent United States rabbi joined Trump when he signed the order instructing the Internal Revenue Service to "alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment", the 1954 law prohibiting organisations with tax-free status, including churches, from participating in political campaigns or supporting particular candidates.

  • Larry Hoffman