Churches can now get involved with politics much more easily without worrying about losing their tax-exempt status thanks to a new Trump executive order. Other non-profits do not have as much power.
The Hill reports:
The measure is designed to ease enforcement of a provision in the federal tax code known as the Johnson Amendment that bars religious institutions from endorsing or opposing political candidates and parties. It directs the IRS to “exercise maximum enforcement discretion” of the amendment, according to the White House.
Trump gained a great deal of support from conservative Christians with his promises of protecting churches. Just weeks after his inauguration, Trump said the following at a National Prayer Breakfast:
“Under my administration, free speech does not end at the steps of a cathedral or synagogue or any other house of worship. We are giving our churches their voices back, we are giving them back in their highest form.
“I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution”
This is setting a terrifying precedent. Churches already have it easy by not paying taxes, now they can chip away at the separation of church and state even more with less fear.
Thankfully groups like The ACLU and Public Citizen will be fighting this. Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said:
This executive order may go down in history as the Citizens United of church/state separation in the context of political spending. We are quickly reviewing the terms of the executive order, which we believe is not legally valid, and plan promptly to sue to block its implementation.
Trump probably isn’t religious at all, but he certainly knew how to deceive conservative Christians to get elected. Now we are will suffer as the separation between church and state erodes and our country stumbles closer towards a theocracy.