If Signed Into Law, New GOP Bill Would Have Major Impact on Your Local Church

November 02, 2017Nov 02, 2017

Reports are coming in that the House Republican tax bill released on Thursday would have a major impact on American churches. In particular, the bill will allow churches to endorse a political candidate, thereby rolling back a 1950s-era law that prevents this from happening.

This 1954 rule prohibits churches from directly engaging in political campaigns. Trump's evangelical Christian supporters have urged him to repeal if elected, which he has promised to do on numerous occasions.

According to The Hill, the law states that churches should not lose their tax-exempt status based on whether they support a political candidate, or whether they issue a statement about a political candidate. As a result, the GOP wishes to permit churches to have increased political freedom in this area. 

Religious leaders have long sought to implement this change to what is known as the Johnson Amendment. According to many religious leaders, the amendment violates their freedom of speech. They should have the freedom to speak about political candidates, they say, while also maintaining their constitutional rights as leaders of religious organizations. Being the pastor or representative of a religious organization should not bar a person from having freedom of speech, they say.

During the campaign, President Trump promised to repeal the amendment, saying that he would "give our churches their voice back." Shortly after taking office, The Hill reports that Trump vowed to "totally destroy" the amendment. A group of more than 4,000 religious leaders from around the country penned a letter opposing Trump's effort to repeal the Johnson amendment, but they are in the Christian minority. The vast majority of Christian leaders are in vigorous support of President Trump's defense of religious liberty. 

America Magazine, a liberal Catholic publication that is skeptical of the effort, notes that the GOP doesn't want churches to be penalized solely because of the content of a homily, sermon, teaching, or dialectic that is made during a religious service or gathering. It is not necessary, believes the GOP, to protect the federal government from faith leaders. Rather, American civic culture should welcome the voice of religious leaders, just as it welcomes the voice of so many other groups. 

According to Trump, people of faith should not be targeted, bullied, or silenced. He therefore claims that his administration will stand up against religious discrimination, as well as the various financial threats against the faith community that the federal government has issued for decades. 

“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore. We will never, ever stand for religious discrimination,” Mr. Trump said in May, according to America Magazine. “This financial threat against the faith community is over.”

In recent news, Meghan McCain, the daughter of US Senator John McCain, just announced her engagement to a conservative writer. 

Next: Meghan McCain Announces Engagement to Conservative WriterNov 02, 2017