During his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, President Donald Trump announced he wants to get rid of a federal law that limits how much churches can participate in political campaigns.
According to NPR, Trump vowed to “get rid of and totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment — U.S. tax code legislation passed in 1954 and sponsored by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson of Texas.
The IRS’ website states that it means churches and other tax-exempt non-profits “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”
On Thursday, Trump said he wants the Johnson Amendment repealed. Considering how former President Barack Obama once used a National Prayer Breakfast appearance to scold Christians in defense of Islam, Trump’s words were a welcome change.
“It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, ‘the God who gave us life, gave us liberty.’ Jefferson asked, ‘Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?’” Trump said.
“Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs,” he added. “That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.”
You can see his comments here:
The president alone can’t end it. Congress must pass a law repealing it. However, Trump’s speech was a sign that a push is coming to end the Johnson Amendment, and that was enough to get liberals alarmed.
Conservatives, on the other hand, said it was about time.
Huckabee pointed out that Lyndon Johnson had originally intended the law to narrowly target a political opponent. (This was not unheard-of behavior for Johnson; during his time in the White House, LBJ supported and signed an anti-nepotism law mostly as revenge upon his bitter rival Robert F. Kennedy, who had been appointed attorney general by his brother, President John F. Kennedy.)
Huckabee said that the Johnson Amendment forced congregations of all religions to leave their First Amendment rights at the doorstep of their church, temple or mosque.
“That’s a complete chilling of the First Amendment rights of these pastors and priests and rabbis,” Huckabee said. “So, the Johnson Amendment, in its repeal, would really say, ‘Look, we have freedom of religion again.’
“I think it’s a remarkable thing that Donald Trump has identified it, that he recognizes the impact of it, and that he’s going to get rid of it.”
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H/T The Right Scoop