Free at at last: Christians cheer President Trump’s EO that will ease restrictions on church political activity

[sharenow]

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Thursday that would make political activity easier for churches and religious groups.

The order, marking the National Day of Prayer, will seek to overcome a federal tax code provision that prohibits religious organizations from participating in politics, threatening their tax-exempt status, according to Reuters.

The order will ease restrictions on religious employers that object to ObamaCare’s preventative services mandate like Little Sisters of the Poor which challenged the birth control mandate in court.

While civil liberty and LGBT groups have been gearing up to fight Trump’s order, the executive action will not be including provisions to allow gay people to be denied services by government agencies and businesses as some feared.

“This executive order isn’t about discrimination. Anything currently illegal under current law would still be illegal,” a senior White House official told Reuters on Wednesday. “It directs the IRS to exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the Johnson amendment which prohibits religious leaders from speaking about politics and candidate from the pulpit.”

Trump and many congressional Republicans have opposed the 1954 law known as the Johnson amendment,  proposed by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson, D-Texas, because they argued it stifled the First Amendment rights of religious organizations.

While the president has repeatedly called for its repeal, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady wants tax-reform legislation to include the repeal.  The House Oversight Committee is set to hold a  hearing on the Johnson amendment on Thursday.

Not surprisingly, word of Trump’s executive action on the Johnson amendment sparked reactions from all sides, especially liberals who never understood the proper meaning of separation of church and state.

Democrats in the Senate sent a letter to Republican leaders urging them to keep the current ban on political activity by religious groups and nonprofits, according to The Hill.

Oregon’s Ron Wyden, Florida’s Bill Nelson and Pennsylvaia’s Bob Casey, Jr. argued that  the Johnson Amendment ensures that federal grants to charities “are free from political conflicts of interest.”

But for conservatives, the repeal of the 1950’s law has been a long time coming and has earned Trump their gratitude.

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[sharenow]
Frieda Powers

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