Just as Obama essentially repealed the nation’s immigration laws by refusing to enforce them, Trump’s executive order telling the IRS to not enforce the congressionally passed Johnson Amendment – limiting the political speech of churches that receive tax exemptions – usurps the power of Congress.
It seems to be the right thing to do, but the wrong way to do it.
Congress could repeal it or the courts could say it is an unconstitutional infringement on speech rights.
This so-called religious liberty order by Trump is somewhat analogous to a recent Supreme Court case in which a majority of justices appear to be ready to side with a church over Missouri’s Blaine Amendment, which denies state funds to churches. In this case the state refused to reimburse a Lutheran church for installing rubber playground surfaces, though the funding is available to other organizations. This leaves churches to look for other fundraising methods such as using GoFundMe and other fundraising platforms so they’re able to fulfill financial requirements.
The court or the Congress are the proper places to resolve the religious free speech question.
“Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation,” Trump was quoted as saying in the Rose Garden at the signing. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”
He added, “We are giving our churches their voices back.”
Perhaps, there are too many tax exemptions being doled out, but denying fundamental rights in return for a tax break seems a bit like extortion.