President Trump’s executive order last week “promoting free speech and religious liberty” allows religious leaders and groups more leeway to support and oppose political candidates.
Should religious groups take sides in political contests?
That’s our Question of the Week for readers.
Under the 1954 Johnson Amendment, named for then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson, religious and other non-profit organizations can be stripped of their tax-free status if they engage in direct electioneering — for instance, if a preacher endorses a candidate from the pulpit. Trump’s executive order doesn’t change the Johnson law, because only Congress can do that. But the order directs the Treasury Department to not take “adverse action” against religious organizations over political involvement.
Another part of the executive order seeks to help organizations that object on religious grounds to Obama administration mandates to pay for contraception. The order doesn’t go as far as some religious conservatives had hoped. It asks federal agencies to amend regulations in order to “address conscience-based objections” to health-care requirements.
Trump told faith leaders at a signing ceremony May 4 that “you are now in a position where you can say what you want to say” after years of the government “bullying and even punishing Americans for following their religious beliefs.”
Many religious leaders welcomed the order, though some among the Christian right felt it didn’t go far enough. Advocates for the separation of church and state criticized it for favoring religious over secular people, and said Trump exaggerates how much religious speech has been stifled.
Surveys indicate most evangelical leaders don’t want to get mixed up in politics.
Would it be good for politics and religion if the two institutions mixed more?
Do you favor Trump’s order?
Will it change much?
Email your thoughts to [email protected] Please include your full name and city or community…