Trump’s latest executive order aims to “vigorously promote religious liberty,” but the practical implications of the policy remain to be seen.
The new executive order, signed by the U.S. President Donald Trump last Thursday, will no longer allow the IRS to take “adverse action” against church and other tax-exempt religious organizations for their involvement in politics that stops short of openly endorsing or opposing election candidates.
Trump’s latest executive order, which was signed by the U.S. President during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, is said by the Trump administration to prevent church and religious groups from being targeted by the IRS for their political views.
Church and other religious organizations will now be able to engage in political activity more freely, which many critics of the Trump administration say could blur the line between church and politics.
While Trump’s newest executive order does not permit church pastors, priests, and imams as well as religious organizations to endorse or oppose political candidates, the restriction first appeared on the 1954 Johnson Amendment, according to CNN.
The Johnson amendment, however, never seemed to stop some pastors from freely delivering political speech in their church, as there were numerous cases of endorsing and opposing presidential candidates during the 2016 election.
While the actual implications of the new executive order appear limited, Trump claimed that the new document would free “pastors, priests, and imams” from being targeted by the Johnson amendment.
While Trump’s latest executive order, which was timed for last Thursday’s National Day of Prayer, seemingly protects politically-active churches and other religious organizations actively engaged in politics from losing their tax-free status, the practical implications of its vague statement of “protecting and vigorously promoting religious liberty” remain to be seen.
Trump’s new executive order also opens the door for church and religious groups to avoid a mandate to provide contraception coverage under Obamacare and other health services.
The latest executive order by Donald Trump does not include the controversial religious liberty provisions leaked in February, which were expected to allow businesses to discriminate based on sexuality without breaking anti-discrimination laws.
Some church members and evangelicals have been pressuring the Trump administration to allow businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation and other moral objections.
Although the latest executive order by Trump does not seem to allow for discrimination against LGBTQIA+ community, Americans are nonetheless worried about new discriminatory orders by the U.S. President in the wake of the controversial “Muslim ban.”
A week after his inauguration in January, Trump caused quite a stir in the world of politics by signing a document that barred entry to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries – the executive order that was widely interpreted as a “Muslim ban.”
While courts have halted the controversial executive order banning Muslims from certain countries from entering the U.S., critics of Trump fear that his administration may pursue new ways of religious discrimination.
But the new executive order paving the way for church members and religious organizations to engage in politics more freely does not seem to promote religious discrimination, which is barred by the U.S. Constitution.
While the latest executive order still does not permit church leaders and religious organizations from freely endorsing or opposing candidates in politics, Trump declared after signing the document that “we are giving our churches their voices back.”
“We are giving our churches their voices back and we are giving them back in the highest form.”
Trump has previously vowed to cancel the Johnson amendment, but in order to wipe out the measure completely the U.S. President would need an act of Congress.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]