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Trump Signs Order Allowing Churches to Endorse, Donate to Candidates

by Countable | 5.4.17

Coinciding with the National Day of Prayer, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that will "protect and vigorously promote religious liberty." The full, final text of the order will be published on the official White House website. An early draft leaked to The Nation raised alarm bells with LGBTQ-rights organizations and other human rights groups. In recent weeks the final language is reported to have been tweaked by Vice-President Pence, leading a group of conservative Christian Republicans.

The order directs the Internal Revenue Service to relax enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. Enacted in 1954, the Johnson Amendment prohibits all 501(c)3 non-profits from endorsing or opposing political candidates. There are many types of these organizations, but Trump’s order specifically focuses on loosening regulation of churches and other religiously-affiliated organizations.

It also offers unspecified "regulatory relief" to religious organizations, some of which are seeking exemptions from Obamacare mandates that they cover contraception in employees’ health plans.

Like other executive orders issued by the president, this one is likely to come under legal scrutiny. As long as the Johnson Amendment is law, directions from the White House to relax its enforcement could lead to legal challenges. Some groups are pushing for a full repeal of the provision, writes the Washington Post:

"repeal of the Johnson Amendment is also being written into the tax legislation being developed in the House of Representatives, according to congressional aides"

What do you think? Should churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations be able to engage in political advocacy? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

Countable

Written by Countable

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(553)
  • Gail
    05/04/2017
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    If churches can endorse and donate to candidates, they should not be tax exempt.

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  • Srschoeneman
    05/04/2017
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    If you want to keep government out of your church, you have to keep the church out of government. This will do more to dismantle freedom of religion than protect it.

    Like (250)
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  • Kerry
    05/04/2017
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    Keep religion out of politics and government: separation of church and state - this is at the core of our current problems with the religious right and republicans

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  • Sherry
    05/04/2017
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    This is against our Constitution! Separation of Church and State. It is a basic premise to which we should always adhere. We do not want religion in our government. We need to stay true to what the founding fathers of our country so wisely wrote. We must keep our government free if religious biases. This is so wrong!

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  • Jason
    05/04/2017
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    If religious organizations want to play in politics, they should be taxed like everyone else. #taxthechurches

    Like (119)
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  • Shannon
    05/04/2017
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    Even as a Christian, I think this is a bad idea. We are not a Christian nation, we're a nation with a lot of Christians (and other religious and non-religious people). Money needs to be taken out of campaigning anyway so this is a step in the wrong direction. Winners should be based on policy and competence, not wealth.

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  • Tricia
    05/04/2017
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    Separation of church & state mean anything?

    Like (65)
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  • Jennifer
    05/04/2017
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    Respect our laws! Keep the separation of church and state!

    Like (64)
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  • Ida
    05/04/2017
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    This is not as bout religious freedom which is as already constitutionally protected; it's about politicians' greed. Finding ways to fund their campaigns. Shameful!

    Like (61)
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  • LelandMont
    05/04/2017
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    If churches are able to lobby like political organizations, they should be taxed like one - no more non-profit status; no more tax-deductible donations

    Like (52)
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  • Jacob
    05/04/2017
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    This is a complete travesty to our democracy. As a fairly religious person myself, church and state must always be separate in order for democracy not to be undermined by any one religious ideology (and the same can happen when politics infect religion). I strongly urge my representatives and congressmen to voice their concern to President Trump, though that seems highly unlikely. Cruz and Cornyn will most definitely not have my vote in 2018.

    Like (48)
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  • Nancy
    05/04/2017
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    Umm, no to this. Keep religion and government separate.

    Like (34)
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  • Sydney
    05/04/2017
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    As a Christian, this offends me to my core. Separation of church and state is a paramount principle of our nation and protects religion as much as the integrity of our democracy. This erosion of rights is so wrong and dangerous for everyone.

    Like (33)
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  • Danny
    05/04/2017
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    Please oppose this ridiculous executive order. Freedom of religion is already protected by our Constitution. We need SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

    Like (28)
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  • Rafael
    05/04/2017
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    As a Christian I am most uncomfortable with this, religion has no place in politics and vice versa. The fact that a religious entity would be allowed to back a politician monetarily is not a good move for either party involved.

    Like (24)
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  • Elizabeth
    05/04/2017
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    Oh hell no! You want to play the game then pay your admission fee like the rest of us. #taxthechurch #separationofchurchandstate

    Like (23)
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  • zoli531
    05/04/2017
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    Separation of church and state is fundamental to our democracy. If religious organizations want government to stay out of their business then they need to stay out of government business. This is a lose-lose for all and I find it frightening.

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  • Debbie
    05/04/2017
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    This violates the essence of our constitution, who are you people?

    Like (19)
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  • Sylvia
    05/04/2017
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    I cannot believe how Republicans are slowly dismantling our country. Separation of church and state is key to our Democracy and ultimately preserves all our religious freedoms. Shameful !

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  • Kendall
    05/04/2017
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    There is a reason we have a separation of church and state. As it stands religious groups have far too much sway on out government as it stands. Do not allow this blatant power grab aimed to disadvantage vulnerable Americans stand.

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