06 May, 2017
President Donald Trump is seeking to further weaken enforcement of an IRS rule barring churches and tax-exempt groups from endorsing political candidates, in a long-anticipated executive order on religious freedom that has disappointed some of his supporters.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday that it had dropped its initial plan to file a lawsuit to prevent the order from taking effect, saying "today's executive order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome".
The Johnson Amendment prohibits registered 501 (c)(3) organizations - which include some religious congregations but also other nonprofits - from endorsing political candidates and participating in political campaigns, at the risk of losing their nonprofit status.
And it will allow federal agencies to exempt some religious organizations from Affordable Care Act requirements that provide employees with health coverage for contraception. "This executive order directs the IRS, not to unfairly target churches or religious organizations for political speech", Trump said.
Trump's language stood in contrast to certain steps his administration has taken to bar entry to citizens from some Muslim-majority nations and his campaign trail vows to stop all Muslims from entering the country. But President Trump has been a vocal opponent of it, claiming that he would "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment and "allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution".
"We are giving churches their voices back", Trump told an audience in the Rose Garden of the White House on Thursday.
In a February survey of evangelical leaders conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents churches from about 40 denominations, 89 percent said pastors should not endorse political candidates from the pulpit.
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Alongside Perez and Sandoval, Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell also spoke in support of law enforcement. Sandoval ordered flags flown at half-staff in honor of the fallen officers.
"We believe that the pulpit should be politics-free", Mclean said.
"IF YOU'RE GOING TO WORK FOR THE PEOPLE, THEN YOU HAVE TO ABIDE BY THE DECISIONS OF THE PEOPLE " The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa said today - "President Trump's executive order is risky andill advised for the government'sinterest and for houses ofworship".
One thing that was not included was a provision allowing religious organizations to avoid serving and hiring members of the LGBTQ community.
Trump's order directs the Internal Revenue Service to "alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment", the White House said in reference to a 1954 law sponsored by Lyndon Johnson, then a Texas senator who later became president.
The move by Trump, who appealed to religious conservatives in his 2016 presidential run, was widely praised by religious organisations that felt hemmed in by the law or openly violated it.
While Trump's action on the Johnson Amendment aims to please religious conservatives, some oppose any action that would weaken the policy.
"I'm really anxious about President Trump trying to politicize the whole thing, turning our religious institutions into political organizations", said Representative Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). "The federal government will never, ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs".
The nonpartisan Washington, D.C. -based Interfaith Alliance also said Trump was appeasing the religious right, noting that: "Faith leaders are already free to address politics, they just can't use tax-exempt dollars for partisan politics".