Donald Trump made a promise today to “destroy” the six-decade-old Johnson Amendment, which divides church and politics. It prevents churches from engaging in political activities.
During a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, Donald Trump quoted Thomas Jefferson:
“It was the great Thomas Jefferson who said, ‘The God who gave us life gave us liberty.’ Jefferson asked, ‘Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?’ Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs.”
Trump went on to say, “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.”
The Johnson Amendment, which was enacted in 1954, is a “provision in the U.S. tax code that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. 501(c)(3) organizations are the most common type of nonprofit organization the United States, ranging from charitable foundations to universities and churches.”
Trump said during his campaign trail that he was going to get rid of the amendment.
During a campaign even in Virginia Trump said:
“I think it’s very unfair, and one of the things I will do very early in my administration is to get rid of the Johnson Amendment so that our great pastors and ministers, rabbis and everybody and priests and everybody can go and tell and can participate in the process.”
Trump drew criticism from Reverend James Martin who tweeted that even if made legal, churches should not speak out on overtly political matters or endorse political candidates.”
Followed by another tweet stating that “another reason churches should not endorse: to avoid becoming too allied with one political part, thus alienating many of their congregants.”
The American Humanist Association and American Atheists also slammed Trump’s move.