Wisconsin-Based Atheist Group Sues Trump over Church Order

Still, opponents said the restrictions have a chilling effect on free speech.

Ralph Reed, a longtime evangelical leader and founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, called the executive order's provisions an excellent "first step".

"(The order) essentially repeats what the IRS has done in practice", Samek said. They said the IRS rule protects houses of worship and religious groups from political pressure. "I don't lose free speech rights when I step behind the pulpit".

During remarks Thursday, Trump said the order would prevent religious groups from being singled out for their political views.

"Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation", Trump said at a National Day of Prayer event with religious leaders and White House staff. "The tax exemption is a gift from the government to the churches so that the churches can provide services that the government sees as valuable", said Starkovich.

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While evangelicals generally welcomed Trump's executive order, other groups raised objections.

ACLU had earlier indicated that it would sue if the president signed an order "that allow religion to be used as an excuse to discriminate", ending its tweet with #SeeYouInCourtAgain. The 1954 amendment has prohibited tax-exempt charitable organizations such as churches from participating in political campaigns.

Some faith leaders have condemned Trump's order, saying it would politicize their congregations.

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.

"With this executive order, we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty". "It would undermine my moral authority as a guardian of religious tradition".

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"It appears we may now have that opportunity, so that may change things". "We want to have a voice, and we haven't had that". A repeal would require congressional action.

It was one of President Trump's biggest promises to voters during his presidential campaign: defending the freedom of religion and speech in America.

"If the effort succeeds these churches would become conduits for unregulated "dark money" in elections, with no restrictions or disclosure requirements", he said.

Trump spoke to religious leaders in the Rose Garden, where he also announced he'll visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Vatican - including a meeting with Pope Francis - on his first foreign trip.

Briefing reporters ahead of the signing on Wednesday evening, a senior official downplayed the possibility that churches would soon act as political groups advocating for particular candidates. On Thursday, the President signed on for more religious liberty, allowing clergy to endorse political candidates from the pulpit without fear of the IRS penalizing them. "Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes". "So we're not changing what's legal, we're not changing what's illegal, just enforcement discretion".

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Why the reversal? According to ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero, the White House directive doesn't actually do anything. "Trump's assertion that he wished to "totally destroy" the Johnson amendment with this order has proven to be a textbook case of 'fake news'".

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