Executive Order Will Not Affect LDS Church Political Neutrality

Executive Order Will Not Affect LDS Church Political Neutrality

"This financial threat against the faith community is over", Trump said Thursday. And we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination.

At least one expert said Trump's order appears legally sound. "I think they oughta have a voice but I'm just totally against getting the political arena in the church arena", said Cooper. The president's "Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty" turns out to be mostly a restatement of the legal status quo combined with some ringing rhetoric about the importance of religious freedom.

The 1954 Johnson Amendment restricts political activity by nonprofits, and previous year on the campaign trail, Trump told a meeting of 100 evangelical and conservative Catholic leaders he would abolish that rule, at least inasmuch as it pertains to religious entities.

However, even Trump's usual supporters aren't fans of the bill, but only because the order doesn't go far enough, as conservative news outlet The National Review explained in a post, calling the order a failure, "While there is no one single reason why Donald Trump won the presidency, this much I do know: If Evangelical voters had not turned out in mass numbers, he would be sitting in NY right now plotting the comeback of Trump Steaks".

The first provision attempts to fulfill Trump's campaign promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates.

Still, Trump has long promised conservative Christians who supported his White House bid that he would block the regulation.

More news: Turkish opposition urges Trump to prod Erdogan on rights

Trump would need Congress to rescind the Johnson Amendment, but he can instruct his administration not to enforce it through executive order. It takes stun at the Johnson Amendment, which provides enforcement mechanisms against religious organizations that get involved in politics.

For civil rights advocates, the most ominous aspect of the executive order is a section that directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to issue sweeping - but so far undefined - guidance to federal agencies "interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law".

The order is also created to allow religious groups to avoid a mandate to provide contraception coverage under President Obama's healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, potentially expanding an exemption that had been carved out in the courts.

This executive order may go down in history as the Citizens United of church/state separation in the context of political spending.

But the head of Log Cabin Republicans, a group that represents gay conservatives, said the idea that the executive order harms gay Americans is "total nonsense".

"The final Executive Order released today may be a watered-down version of the draconian draft we feared, but make no mistake: we have absolutely no reason to believe a more explicitly anti-LGBTQ action won't come at a future date", says Willard.

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