Trump signs religious liberty order

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FRFF) filed a lawsuit seeking to end an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that would allow churches and other tax-exempt religious entities to take more of a vocal role in politics without fear financial repercussions.

An earlier version of the order, which had previously leaked to The Nation, would have provided sweeping legal protections for people to claim religious exemptions, provisions that civil liberties groups claimed would allow for discrimination against LGBT Americans. He said he was giving churches their voices back. "We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced anymore".

"It's been happening", he said.

Michael Farris, president and general counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom, a Texas-based agency that handles religious liberty cases, said the order, while well-meaning, included "vague instructions to federal agencies [that] simply leaves them wiggle room" to ignore the action.

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Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump's evangelical advisory board who was at the signing ceremony, said that Christian conservatives are being "unrealistic" for thinking that Trump can solve all religious liberty issues in one executive order.

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Vander Plaats added that Trump's executive order is a step in the right direction. "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", ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement.

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Churches and other tax-exempt organisations are restricted from endorsing or explicitly opposing political candidates under the 1954 Johnson Amendment, but the executive order made it clear that those activities would still not be permitted.

"I think that this area for me is a minefield that if not dealt with properly can become a awful distraction", said Crudup.

Only one church has ever lost its tax-exempt status because of the Johnson Amendment, and it actually had nothing to do with a sermon.

"We are always grateful for the efforts of leaders to safeguard religious freedom and protect the beliefs and religious exercise of all people", the statement reads.

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Rev. Starkovich said in his line of work there will be times that political and social issues are brought into the pulpit, but it never violates the Johnson Amendment.

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