Ninety-nine religious groups, including groups of nearly every religious denomination, issued a statement demanding that Congress preserve the “Johnson Amendment,” which prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.
In the letter, the groups write, “Current law serves as a valuable safeguard for the integrity of our charitable sector and campaign finance system.”
In February, Trump said he would “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment. Per The Washington Post:
Trump has opposed the Johnson Amendment because he claims that it impinges upon Americans’ “right to worship according to our own beliefs” — apparently describing campaign participation as a form of worship.
Of course, what Trump says and reality are two very different things. The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty has said:
“Politicizing churches does them no favors. The promised repeal is an attack on the integrity of both our charitable organizations and campaign finance system. Inviting churches to intervene in campaigns with tax-deductible offerings would fundamentally change our houses of worship. It would usher our partisan divisions into the pews and harm the church’s ability to provide refuge.”
Lifeway, a Christian polling firm, found that 79% of respondents did not think it appropriate for pastors to publicly endorse political candidates during a church service.
The letter goes on to explain that “people of faith do not want partisan political fights infiltrating their houses of worship,” “current law protects the integrity of houses of worship,” and “current law protects the independence of houses of worship.” The letter finishes by charging that the charitable sector “should not become another cog in a political machine or another loophole in campaign finance laws.”
Trump has become increasingly deaf to what Americans actually want, pushing through the construction of a wall that only 38% of Americans want, a healthcare bill to replace Obamacare that only 18% of Americans want, and selling your private data to ISPs that only 6% of Americans want.
It seems like our “populist” president is more interested in his own interests than those of the people who voted for him.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.