Trump Signs Executive Order on Religious Freedom

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Published May 04, 2017  | Fox News
 

President Trump marked the National Day of Prayer by signing an executive order aimed at boosting religious freedom by easing IRS restrictions against political activities by tax-exempt religious organizations, including churches.

Declaring “no one should be censoring sermons,” Trump announced the order, which fulfilled a campaign pledge, during a Rose Garden ceremony Thursday attended by religious leaders, activists and Vice President Pence.

“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced again and we will never stand for religious discrimination,” Trump said before signing the order, which states it is now administration policy is “to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.”

The ban on political speech from the pulpit is rooted in an amendment introduced in 1954 by then-Democratic Sen. Lyndon Johnson that gave the IRS authority to punish tax-exempt charitable organizations, including churches, for making political endorsements or getting involved in political campaigns.

The order directs the IRS to exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden of the so-called Johnson Amendment.

In addition, it instructs the Treasury Department not to target the tax-exempt status of churches and other institutions if they express support for political candidates.

The order also directs the Department of Justice to ensure religious protections are afforded to individuals and groups, such as Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who take a vow of poverty in serving the elderly.

In his introductory remarks, Vice President Mike Pence said the National Day of Prayer is a time to reaffirm “the vital role people of faith play in American society” and praised the president for marking the day in such a public manner.

Source: Fox News

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