Trump targeting IRS rule on churches

Trump targeting IRS rule on churches

"I am signing an executive order to defend the freedom of religion and speech in America - the freedoms that we wanted, the freedoms that you fought so hard for". "For too long, the federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith...", the president said, associating himself with the persecution complex that afflicts some on the religious right. While Congress would need to officially scrap the law, the order will reduce the likelihood that a religious organisation would be penalised if one of its leaders endorsed a candidate. NPR's Tom Gjelten reports that liberals and conservatives alike are not happy with it. "Jefferson asked, 'Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?' Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs".

However, the new order does not provide any major concessions to religious entities despite the role that conservatives played in getting Trump elected president in the 2016 election.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the IRS from implementing Trump's order. It takes stun at the Johnson Amendment, which provides enforcement mechanisms against religious organizations that get involved in politics. Evangelicals were not impressed.

Thursday's order stated the policy of the administration is to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.

GJELTEN: Ryan Anderson is a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation. An earlier draft leaked in February included a provision allowing government agencies to deny services to LGBTQ people in the name of religious freedom.

"After careful review of the order's text we have determined that the order does not meaningfully alter the ability of religious institutions or individuals to intervene in the political process", the statement said.

GJELTEN: Actually, this is a major overstatement. It sends the message that the IRS won't be held accountable by this administration for continuing to turn a blind eye to even blatant examples of politicking by churches and other religious organizations. It does not restrict clergy from speaking on issues of public or political importance.

President Trump signed an executive order aimed at protecting politically active churches from losing their tax-free status.

Dr. Jerry Young, a pastor and President of the National Baptist Convention, says he doesn't endorse candidates. "It's very Un-American to say just because you have a certain office you can't speak out on something". Most employers are now required to provide birth control services.

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