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jh-siesta.com January 19, 2018


Trump limits IRS action over church political activity

06 May 2017, 01:44 | Ignacio Ramos

"President Trump's executive order removes a sword of Damocles that has hung over the faith community for decades by administratively repealing the Johnson Amendment and restoring the right to political speech by pastors, churches and ministries", Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a leading advocate of repealing the prohibition, said in a statement. Sources told ABC News that the order instructs the Treasury Department not to target the tax-exempt status of churches and other institutions for supporting political candidates, which is now forbidden.

The executive order promises that the executive branch of the federal government will honor and enforce all existing protections for religious liberty.

The order limits the reach of the Johnson Amendment, under with houses of worship and charitable organizations risk losing their tax-exempt status for promoting or opposing a political candidate.

The right for employers to deny employees health insurance that covers birth controlThis is a victory for conservative groups that have been backing organizations like Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic organization that refused to comply with the Obamacare mandate that companies offer employees health care plans covering contraceptives. "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.

"President Trump's executive order did not ease the current restrictions on political activity by religious organizations", said Lawrence Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center.

The executive order itself, however, instructs the secretaries of the Treasury, labor, and health and human services to "consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections" to the contraception mandate.

Although violations of the Johnson Amendment could lead to the loss of tax-exempt status, the IRS has rarely enforced the rule.


"We're going to be mobilizing millions of voters to turn out at the polls and vote their values", Butler said.

He has mixed feelings about President Donald Trump's executive order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.

"Tell the president that the nation's first liberty demands more respect - and more protection - than the unsafe nothingness of this executive order", wrote David French, a National Review Online writer. Trump said he would direct the Justice Department to develop rules to guide that process.

An earlier version of the order, which had previously leaked to The Nation, would have provided sweeping legal protections for people to claim religious exemptions, provisions that civil liberties groups claimed would allow for discrimination against LGBT Americans.

Despite Trump's executive order, the law remains on the books, and removing it will require an act of Congress.

Romero said the order was, in essence, just a way to pander to religious conservatives.

The ADF has been vigilant in its opposition to the Johnson Amendment, and even sponsors an annual "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" - a day when it encourages pastors to preach political sermons and send the transcripts to the IRS. "The federal government will never, ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs". More than 1,300 clergy members put out a full-page ad in Politico, warning that "religious liberty" could be used as a weapon against LGBTQ individuals, women, and children in foster care.



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