Daily Trends Now
Daily Trends Now

Pastor Jeffress: Trump Is Ending Gov't 'Assault' on Religious Liberty

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures to the media after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas left the White House in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017.

President Trump has been vocal about protecting churches from losing tax-exempt status if they choose to endorse political candidates. Offending houses of worship would lose their tax-exempt status.

The White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters Wednesday night that the order will direct the IRS to use "maximum enforcement discretion" over the rule.

"This financial threat against the faith community is over", Trump said. "The prohibition against endorsing or opposing political candidates from our pulpits simply prevents groups from being simultaneously tax-exempt ministries and partisan political outfits". She was relieved LGBTQ-specific language was not included, but said Trump's order still blurs the lines between the separation of church and state.

The American Civil Liberties Union has called it "a license to discriminate" and is promising to sue the Trump administration. They noted that neither Republican nor Democratic policy stances lined up neatly with any major religion's teaching and said the move could fracture congregations by encouraging their leaders to take sides.

The Rev. Danny Reed of the Unitarian Church in Charleston said his flock has never felt cowed by tax codes when it comes to political expression. Only religious organizations and churches will be exempted from the law, meaning other nonprofits will still be prohibited from political speech.

It also would have adopted the Russell Amendment, expanding religious exemptions for employers that are federal contractors or subcontractors.

The Little Sisters of the Poor, the order of Catholic nuns that has operated a nursing home in Baltimore since 1869, is celebrating an executive order President Donald Trump signed Thursday promising to offer "regulatory relief" to groups with religious objections to the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

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

An adjustment to the Internal Revenue Code - which was adjusted in 1986 but continued to include Johnson Amendment - would require an act of Congress, but Trump can influence how it is enforced. Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, warns politicking from the pulpit may come at the cost of a church's "prophetic witness - its ability to speak truth to power and not risk being co-opted by the government".

"The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government", the order reads.

However, another conservative religious liberty group that has been involved in the battles over transgender student rights, the Alliance Defending Freedom, expressed disappointment that the executive order did not go further. The Republican president cited historically black churches and slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.as important drivers of US social progress before signing the order. And the Pew Research Center found that such endorsements are relatively rare. Pastors, including the Rev. Kevin Baird of Legacy Church in West Ashley, recorded sermons endorsing candidates and mailed them to the IRS, hoping to start a legal challenge to the amendment.

What does the order say?


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