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LDS Church says Trump's order easing political restrictions won't alter current stance

LDS Church says Trump's order easing political restrictions won't alter current stance

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order Thursday with the intention of easing restrictions imposed by the Johnson Amendment, the rule limiting political participation by tax-exempt religious groups.

Trump met with evangelical leaders Wednesday night and with Catholic leaders Thursday morning before signing the order at a public ecumenical ceremony in the Rose Garden.

It aims to eradicate the Johnson Amendment, which is a piece of legislation that bans tax-exempt religious organizations from directly or indirectly participating, or intervening in a political campaign. It allows churches and other religious and charitable organizations to carry out the political action without worrying about losing their tax-exempt status.

The new order contains a more vague blanket statement that declares the administration is committed "to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty".

As he marked the National Day of Prayer at the White House on Thursday, Trump signed the order on religious freedom, which directs the Treasury Department to not take "adverse action" against churches or religious organizations for political speech. "Today's executive order will not affect that longstanding policy". The federal government, he said, will never ever penalize someone for their religious beliefs.

The White House says it's part of a strategy to reach out across religions to fight extremism.

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The American Civil Liberties Union immediately vowed to sue over the executive order, which ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero described as "a broadside to our country's long-standing commitment to the separation of church and state". Neither of those policy changes was directly brought into effect by the order.

A spokesperson for the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa told KCCI, "President Trump's executive order is risky and ill-advised for the government's interest and for houses of worship".

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said that the religious liberty order is the start of a process in reversing the "devastating trend set by the last administration to punish charities, pastors, family owned businesses and honest, hard-working people simply for living according to their faith". "Never ever", President Trump said.

Opponents of the Johnson Amendment say such punishment is rarely seen because pastors are intimidated into silence.

Trump added, "That is why I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution". Without health coverage of contraception under the ACA, countless women will lose their basic right to prevent pregnancy and plan when they have children.


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