Wisconsin-based atheist group sues Trump over church order

Kari Scott
May 12, 2017

The suit seeks an injunction preventing the IRS from implementing Trump's order, and asks that the tax agency equitably enforce the electioneering restrictions against all tax-exempt organizations. In a statement following the issuance of the order, the BJC's executive director Amanda Tyler charged the President's action showed his interest in politicizing houses of worship.

A Wisconsin-based atheist group is asking a federal judge to strike down President Donald Trump's latest executive order, which is created to protect religious freedoms.

Singh, who was the only Sikh American invited to attend Trump's address on the National Day of Prayer in the Rose Garden of the White House said the US President is against hate crime and is "determined to unite the divided country".

"This financial threat against the faith community is over", Trump said Thursday.

"Today my administration is leading by example as we take historic steps to protect religious liberty in the United States of America", the president said Thursday as he signed the order.

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"Protecting religious freedom was one of the centerpieces of President Trump's campaign". "He had assembled all of the usual suspects and given them dinner the night before and apparently met with Catholic Bishops and they had the prayers in the Rose Garden, and he's clearly pandering to what he considers to be his base, the religious right".

A statement released with the order said that "it shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law's robust protections for religious freedom", while the president said that he would instruct the Justice Department to come up with a set of regulations to set a precedent for that process. The FFRF is asking the court to declare the order unconstitutional.

"The EO not only directs a relax standard of enforcement in regard to churches and religious organizations, but also conveys the intended impression that the Government is actively sending a message to Christians, and particularly evangelicals, that the IRS will no longer enforce the Johnson Amendment against them, thereby encouraging electioneering by churches and church officials, to the detriment of secular non-profit groups that are still held to a more rigorous standard of enforcement".

The first provision attempts to fulfill Trump's campaign promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates. "We put into the platform, we're going to get rid of the disgusting Johnson Amendment". Violators could lose their tax-exempt status, but the law — known as the Johnson Amendment — has rarely been enforced.

FFRF has over 28,000 members across the nation, including more than 1,400 in Wisconsin, and is represented by Richard Bolton of Boardman & Clark in Madison.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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