Executive Order Promotes Religious Freedom

Kelly Massey
May 17, 2017

An atheist organization has filed suit against President Donald Trump and the Internal Revenue Service over the president's "religious liberty" executive order, arguing that it's unconstitutional government support for religious organizations.

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

He vowed to defend all faiths, saying the order showed the United States "will never stand for religious discrimination".

While the "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty" order, signed on the National Day of Prayer, calls for the IRS to ease enforcement of the rarely enforced "Johnson Amendment", the law can not be officially quashed, though, without a vote from Congress. "We are giving the churches their voices back". "Today's executive order will not affect that longstanding policy".

Trump can not fully lift the restrictions by presidential fiat, and his action on Thursday is not likely to fully satisfy those seeking the full revocation of the amendment.

Several religious leaders who supported Trump praised the order as a first step in what would be a lengthy, hard process of reworking a web of regulations that many religious conservatives consider unfair.

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Trump welcomed religious leaders of different faiths in the Rose Garden of the White House to mark the occasion. The action maintains that the president's order would selectively benefit churches and religious organizations by allowing them to endorse political candidates without risking their tax-exempt status.

The executive order also will offer "regulatory relief" for organizations such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who sued President Barack Obama's administration over the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, the White House official said.

The order also forbids the Treasury Department from denying religious groups tax deductions for donations to political groups. "Today's executive order will not affect that longstanding policy", said LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins.

"This executive order directs the IRS not to unfairly target churches and religious organizations for political speech", he said.

The FFRF is calling the order unconstitutional.

"Tim Schultz, the president of the First Amendment Partnership, which works with legislators at the state and national level on religious-liberty issues, told the Atlantic that the conservative reaction to the order would be mixed, especially because it leaves out protections for those who object to same-sex marriage". He then orders that all Federal agencies will "to the greatest extent practical" respect and protect the "freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech". Romero said: "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".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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