Wisconsin-based atheist group sues Trump over church order

07 May 2017, 12:57 | Noah Barnes

While Trump's action on the Johnson Amendment aims to please religious conservatives, not all of them are on board. "Through this executive order, Trump has directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions - a man who has denied LGBTQ people equality under the law - to seek a license to discriminate across all areas of the government". Kaylia Metcalf-Armstrong, with Gay Central Valley, said, "Anytime one group gets to dictate the healthcare for another group, I think you have problems, especially when the rubric is based on religious ideology". "And he vowed to do something to change it".

"Among its many faults", the FFRF lawsuit states, Trump's order "requires the IRS to selectively and preferentially discontinue enforcement of the electioneering restrictions of the tax code against churches and religious organizations, while applying a more vigorous enforcement standard to secular nonprofits".

"It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, 'The God who gave us life gave us liberty", said Trump at the breakfast. "That's what was historic about today".

To faith leaders at the White House Rose Garden, Trump said, "We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced any more and we will never ever stand for religious discrimination..."

In an interview with Catholic News Service at Reagan National Airport May 4 on his way back to his diocese for a confirmation Mass, Cardinal DiNardo said the amendment was likely more important to evangelical Christians than Catholics because, as he pointed out, the Catholic Church "has the tradition of 'Faithful Citizenship, '" which he said puts the Johnson Amendment in a bigger context. But he has concerns about mixing politics and religion.

Trump pledged to "totally destroy" the Johnson Amendment at the National Prayer Breakfast this year. 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.

Meanwhile, several religious leaders expressed opposition to the executive order, saying it could send houses of worship down a "slippery slope". The New York Times' Ross Douthat pithily argued that the White House has not properly ordered its religious freedom priorities. "We look forward to working with the White House, Justice Department and others to implement the principles laid out in today's executive order".

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"With this executive order, we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty, and we are proudly reaffirming America's leadership role as a nation that protects religious freedom for everyone", Trump said. As soon as details of the order are sorted out, his church plans to endorse a candidate for mayor.

"We don't want to continue to see our culture polarized", Matteson said.

Under the church's stance of neutrality, it does not endorse political candidates, parties or platforms, or tell church members who they should support or what their party affiliation should be.

The lawyer praised Trump's decision to issue the order, adding, "I think it's long overdue".

Jacobson said she also found some irony in the measure.

Although Trump's order doesn't go as far as some feared, it still is troubling.

"This is neither what religious freedom means in the eyes of the law, nor what religion itself means to millions of Americans of faith".



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