Wisconsin-based atheist group sues Trump over church order


"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced any more", Trump said at a signing ceremony at the White House where religious leaders had gathered in support.

"Free speech does not end at the steps of a cathedral or a synagogue, or any other house of worship", the president said.

"We will preach the truths, we will preach the values of our faith, and we will leave it up to the people in the pews to vote according to those values, but to let them make their own decisions about who and what candidates to vote for", said Starkovich.

"The directive to federal agencies to explore religious-based exceptions to healthcare does cue up a potential future battle, but as of now, the status quo has not changed", ACLU's director said.

It also instructs the IRS to allow active churches across the United States to endorse political candidates.

The Johnson amendment, named for then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson, was put into force in 1954 and prohibited partisan political activity for churches and other tax-exempt organizations.

The law limits a nonprofit's spending as well as its speech.

While the Internal Revenue Service now does not investigate ministers who release political statements, there are concerns that churches could start being involved in political contributions. "That's illegal now for them, as a condition of their tax-exempt status".

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Although the ban on campaign activities has been in place for years, churches are rarely punished for violating the provision, legal experts say.

Dr. Jerry Young, a pastor and President of the National Baptist Convention, says he doesn't endorse candidates. He also praised the work of the BJC in addressing the issue. And we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. The complaint was eventually dismissed. Maybe that will be a good thing; maybe we'll see that we have to hold things back a bit with some of our staff. "That's what freedom of religion is".

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.

GJELTEN: Trump's actual order, however, only directed the Justice Department to, quote, "issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law".

But by late Thursday, the group concluded the order was little more than a "faux sop to religious conservatives".

He called Trump's order "supremely unhelpful" and said it could open the door to people who want to buy endorsements or route money to political campaigns. He was hosting members of his evangelical advisory board and planned to meet Roman Catholic leaders in the Oval Office before signing the order. "Ivanka wore out her red pencil eviscerating the original order, leaving us with today's order which has very nice language but is virtually entirely lacking in substance".

"Evangelicals emphasize evangelism, and pastors often avoid controversies that might take priority over the gospel message", said NAE President Leith Anderson in a statement about the poll.

Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver, an attorney who helped Floyd's church handle the 2004 complaint, predicts the IRS no longer will be scrutinizing sermons. "I think it's bad public policy".