President Trump said he would destroy the Johnson Amendment during remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 2, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlos Barria

Trump vows to let churches engage in politics

President Trump speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast. C-SPAN video

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Trump vowed in his first National Prayer Breakfast as chief executive to make good on a campaign promise to repeal the law that restricts political speech from the pulpit.

“I will get rid of, totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear,” he said on Thursday (Feb. 2) to a gathering of 3,500 faith leaders, politicians and other dignitaries from around the world, including King Abdullah of Jordan.

“I will do that, remember,” Trump added.

The Johnson Amendment, championed by then-Texas Sen. Lyndon Johnson, prohibits tax-exempt houses of worship from engaging in partisan politics. They can neither endorse nor oppose candidates or political parties without risking their tax-exempt status.

Repeal of the amendment, passed into law in 1954, is among the list of acts many religious conservatives hope the president will accomplish in his first year in office.

The president’s promise to repeal the amendment came in the midst of a speech that included comparisons of network ratings of the current version of “The Apprentice,” starring former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, with his own. “I want to just pray for Arnold, if we can, for those ratings,” he joked.

But the president’s remarks turned serious as he described religious liberty as a foundational premise of the United States that is under siege, both here and abroad.

U.S. President Donald Trump prays during the National Prayer Breakfast event in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 2, 2017. Photo courtesy of Retuers/Carlos Barria

President Trump prays during the National Prayer Breakfast event in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 2, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Carlos Barria


 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“Freedom of religion is a sacred right, but it is also a right under threat all around us,” he said from a podium in the Washington Hilton’s ballroom. I have never seen that so much and so openly since I took this position.”

He then promised to “fix” that because, he said, “that’s what I do. I fix things.”

The president also addressed immigration, a hot potato since he enacted orders last week limiting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries and pushing for a border wall with Mexico. He seemed to promise that vetting of immigrants will include a probe into their commitment to religious liberty for all.

“We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation so in the coming days we will be developing a process to determine that those who enter our nation uphold religious liberty,” he said. “ ... We will be a safe country, we will be a country where all citizens can practice their beliefs without fear of hostility or fear of violence.”

Cathy Kirley of Minnesota, who attended the prayer breakfast for the third time, said the speech reassured her about the president’s intentions.

“So I really do respect that he’s trying to keep our country safe, and his intolerance for violence is really what drives him to a lot of the actions he’s been taking,” she said afterward.

Michael Wear, an evangelical Christian who was a faith adviser for the 2012 Obama re-election campaign, took part in a “prayerful” protest outside the venue and followed the speech from there.

He said Trump’s promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment was an attempt to deflect attention from his moves on immigration.

“We reject the crass, unjust, uncompassionate policy that he rolled out and we’re going to keep on speaking out about it.”

The president spoke after a rousing sermon-style address by keynote speaker the Rev. Barry Black, a retired Navy rear admiral and the first African-American and Seventh-day Adventist to serve as the Senate chaplain.

Black, in his sonorous bass voice and trademark bowtie, jumped among books of the Bible, ranging from Acts to Zechariah, as he encouraged the assembled — whom he addressed as “my father’s children” — to “make your voices heard in heaven.”

“I urge you first of all to pray for all people,” he said. “We need to pray for everyone, whether they read the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the holy Quran. … We need to pray for all people, hallelujah to the Lamb of God.”

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who is close to Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner's family and who offered an opening prayer, said afterward that he thought the president “spoke very nicely.”

“I think the president does believe in God, which is very much in keeping with the American way of life,” he told RNS. “Not to force religion on anyone, but America is a very religious country.”

A day earlier, a petition signed by 800 Christian faith leaders was published, beseeching Trump to “remember refugees and immigrants have sacred worth in God’s eyes.”

“We pray that you use your office to unite, and turn away from your rhetoric and policy proposals that degrade human dignity,” the petition read. There was also a group of protesters outside the Hilton as the guests arrived.


READ: Christian leaders to Trump: We're praying for you, but ...  


The National Prayer Breakfast has been held since 1953, and every sitting president has attended it annually. It is chaired each year by two members of Congress — one from each major party — who meet for prayer. The majority of religious leaders who attend are Christian and the event is organized by a Christian foundation.

President Obama also used his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast to promote religious liberty. But his remarks were notably different from Trump’s. Obama more than once acknowledged people of no faith as part of the American religious makeup.

On Thursday, Trump took a different tack.

“America is a nation of believers,” he said. “So easily we forget this, that the quality of our lives is not defined by our material success, but by our spiritual success. I will tell you that as somebody who has known tremendous material success.”

Comments

  1. Churches have lost the relevance of Christ, and how starved this world is for Him. This is not a good idea. They should be teaching Christ. This is why they are losing people now.

  2. Not a great idea .The Church and State should be separate. What you are going to get in some cases is a evangelist , pastor,rabbi,imam etc … saying he agrees with the opinions of a particular party or candidate .Just look at the Middle East a huge amount of their problems come from not separating religion from the State and law. Keep it as it is now . If it is not broke don’t try to fix it approach would be better in this case .

  3. Get rid of the Johnson Amendment, the sooner the better. Preachers should not be muzzled. Whether certain charities and environmental groups and religions should be tax-exempt is one question. But no person should lose their First Amendment right to political speech as a result of being tax-exempt. “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.

  4. Brendan Eich may be interested in that, although Mozilla isn’t tax exempt, eh?

  5. “As it is now” the Johnson Amendment is flagrantly unconstitutional. Which is why no one has dared to enforce it to the degree necessary to spark a Suprene Court challenge

  6. No, actually, Sandi, the churches are teaching pretty much the same old nonsense Christ stories they always did. One difference is that now society is much more open and Christianity can be more openly criticized for being the fiction that it so obviously always has been That is why your superstition A.K.A. Christianity is losing followers fast; your beliefs don’t stand up to modern scrutiny, and don’t hold up in view of our modern understanding of the world and the universe.

    It’s WONDERFUL to see your horrid superstition in decline.

  7. I get the feeling you are trying to tell me something but I don’t know what.

  8. Sorry Violet – You had written: “But no person should lose their First Amendment right to political speech as a result of being tax-exempt.”
    Brendan Elch was forced out of a job for donating to a pro marriage group before being employed at the job. That is what I meant when I wrote that Mozilla isn’t tax exempt though.

  9. I can hardly wait until Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Scientologists all get to openly back the religious representative of their own faith. My God’s better than yours. (Sarcasm)

  10. Okay lets look at some societies that are dominated by religion . Islamic countries are dominated by the Muslim religion . The law is Sharia law which is a religious law and controls judicial law and family law .There have been some discussion of modernizing but this is a subject of dispute between Muslim traditionalists and reformists. In some Muslim countries wars have been fought over changes.I am trying to simplify this to be brief but my point is religion and law and political power are too closely entwined in Islamic countries. If a King in Saudi Arabia wants to abolish flogging or allow woman more freedom he can’t do it as the Sharia law is not interpreted by him but by the religious leadership in the country, That religious leadership applies the law as interpreted by the Koran and the Imam.
    Closer to home let’s look at Quebec ,Canada .Maurice Duplessis, also known as “The Boss” was the Premier of Quebec for 18 years. The years from 1936-1939 and then 1944-1959, where Duplessis reigned was known as the “Great Darkness”. The reason why the era was called the great darkness because many secrets were kept away from the public. There was no economic advancements and basically Quebec was left in the dark. Duplessis had an association with the Catholic Church . Quebec was 99. % Catholic at that time . Faith was key in French culture and the Catholic church played a great part in the French-Canadian’s lives at this time . You could say this was a priest ridden society. Duplessis kept unions out of Quebec ,the only union was a Catholic based union that farmers could join . French Quebec was very agricultural during this time period . So come election time the parish priest would include in part of his Sunday sermon who he expected his parishioners to vote for . The priest and Church used their influence to shape the politics in Quebec and yes Duplessis always won . Tried to be as brief as I could but I hope you get my point .Religion and politics can be dangerous.

  11. They’re putting up like a thousand Ba’al arches here, there,
    everywhere! “I’m coming out for the whole world to see” and the next thing “I’M GOING TO SUCK ON YOU LIKE A BUCKET OF TICKS FOR ETERNITY!”.

    The McGuffin is spiking humanity. The setup hero is Barack. The villain is humanity. Hillary is the anti-Christ.

    You’re gonna die of Lyme disease in denial unless you untie
    your tubes you tied in your commie core teens and join Team America. Hillary was last in line for brains. The ones she’s got are rotten and insane.

  12. Everyone stereotypes because it serves an useful purpose. The facts are usually Conservative. Progress is usually pragmatic. The truth is usually stranger than fiction thanks to all the plausible lies.

    King James was the King of Scotland before he wrote the bible. When King James, Adam Smith, and David Hume were young Scotsmen, they spoke gaelic, wore their kilts at their knees, and played with their bag pipes just like everyone else. The English were so feed up with the Hatfields and McCoys, the English shipped the Whigas off to Appalachia. Adam, James, and David pulled up their kilts, learned to speak English, and changed the world.

    Our national anthem is based on a drinking song the English use to sing about hating the Scots. We are the Scottish Enlightenment Shining City on the Hill and our founding fathers were radical hip hop dudes. Jerry Curls went out of style in 1780s just like they did in 1980s. Next time you’re blowing Barry’s bag pipe, pick me up a couple of mouth condoms to keep my feet dry when I go skiing.

  13. Ronald Reagan wasn’t a lifeguard. President Reagan was a
    life saver for opening the big pool for business. When the rich man goes off the end of innovation diving board, he or she swims to the side of the pool and gets back in line. Reagan also cut taxes along the virgin mother of economics.

    During the Elizabethan age, Queen Elizabeth took England
    from an indebted backwater to the dominate world power. King Phillip and Sir John Keynes did not bust her Friedrich Hayek and capitalist pirates. Her cast iron booty was pure silver and gold that’s why our founding fathers promoted
    the species in the Constitution but what Queen Elizabeth and her public corporations were all about has been forgotten.

    Queen Elizabeth wanted everyone to love her and loved to
    give. Her despotic suitors and predecessor weren’t smart enough to realize they had to take in order to give. Taxpaying parishioners love to give after they have plenty of earned success making other people happy. The English loved her and still love her to this day.

    Queen Elizabeth’s public corporations were a means to put a bloated bureaucracy through a Church of England basket strainer. If the taxpaying parishioners thought a project or bureaucracy was of no use then no money went into the collection basket.

    By separating what government needed to do and what everyone wanted done, she was able to lower the base flat tax rate. The virgin mother of economics made it very clear that her capitalist pirates had to walk the free market plank. There is a right and wrong way for fat cats, politicians, and bureaucrats to get some loving. The fat cats, at the end of the diving board, made everyone love them by putting more money in the collection basket. With the belly flop junk out of the system, the government pumps ran smoothly and the control valves worked.

    Should I build a pedestal or replace Hamilton with $10 Sarah Palin only wearing a gold and silver chasisty belt. I got my sister to tickle my elmos. I know I can do you.

  14. We’re not talking separation of church and state. We’re talking freedom of speech. Our churches are not established and state-supported but they are certainly free to say what they please.

  15. Preachers aren’t being muzzled. They just prefer tax exemption. If you want churches reduced to the same status and credibility as a PAC, so be it. Just don’t get upset when they aren’t treated with the respect you expected.

  16. Being fired from a company for being a PR problem has nothing to do with the first amendment.

  17. I am happy to see a Christian putting up an objection here. Put the constitutional issue aside. I wonder how churchgoers are going to feel when their pastor starts making all kinds of endorsements and political positions from the pulpit. Who’s to say it has to have any connection with religion? “Jim Smith is a good friend of mine and he’s running for State Senate. I hope you’ll all vote for him because I told him he could count on my church.”

  18. They certainly are state-supported, if they are 501c(3) organizations. If churches and their pastors want to give up their tax exemptions, then and only then should they be allowed to endorse, campaign for, or financially suppory partisan candidates.

  19. There’s no right in the Constitution that religious organizations are tax exempt!

  20. So you support the idea that money is speech and that corporations–churches– are people. They are not.

    What you support is tax free dollars being used for political purposes. No other type of political organization gets to to that.

    This must be the freedom to be found in your Christ. The freedom to do what his richest sponsors say. special rights for religion.

    Why do you hate real freedom?

  21. I rarely I agree with you, but on this I believe you are correct. Nothing will destroy religion in this country more than to allow places of worship to focus on politics. Christianity will be the biggest loser of them all because, as you say, the focus is (or at least should be) Christ not Caesar.

  22. Re: “King James was the King of Scotland before he wrote the bible.” 

    He didn’t “write” the Bible. He didn’t even translate it. He did, however, grant permission for a new English translation to be rendered. 

    Re: ” Adam, James, and David pulled up their kilts, learned to speak English, and changed the world.” 

    King James lived through the turn of the 17th century. Hume and Smith both lived during the 18th century. They couldn’t possibly have done anything together because James’s lifetime didn’t overlap Hume’s or Smith’s. And Appalachia wasn’t being settled by the Brits during James’s lifetime, either. 

    Re: “Our national anthem is based on a drinking song the English use to sing about hating the Scots.” 

    The song to which you refer (called “The Anacreontic Song” or “To Anacreon in Heaven”) doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with the Scots. 

    Overall I’m not sure where you got your history from, but whatever the source, it’s wrong. 

  23. Nobody should have to choose between being tax-exempt and being free (which would you choose?) I would expect the better preachers would not descend to the depths of politics and thereby alienate members of their congregations. Nevertheless I defend their right to do so.

  24. I suppose there might be a case where a small, impoverished church would experience hardship from being taxed, and thus the tax could be viewed as government interference in religion, even persecution; but ironically, not taxing a church amounts to the government supporting that religion.

  25. Praying that God can make America think again. americainbibleprophecy.org

  26. Let’s not forget that fascism came to power in Spain and Germany with help from organized religion. Trump’s latest bow is to reward the evangelical pastors (remember that the word “pastor” in Latin originally meant someone who herded sheep) who led 81% of white evangelicals to vote for Trump. Let’s also note that the vast majority of Americans and clergy oppose church involvement in politics. Trump has no respect for the religious liberty of Americans or for our constitutional tradition of separation of church and state that underlies our religious freedom.

    Let us also remember that in 1952 Congress approved the constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which echoes the First Amendment and states that “There shall be complete separation of church and state.” But of course the ignorant Trump knows none of this.

    Edd Doerr

  27. Tax exemption is not a right, its a privilege. One that one has to earn based on the kind of activity being done.

    We give churches tax exemption because of the notion that religious practice and ceremony is something more important culturally than petty political or commercial concerns. But if a church wants to act like a PAC or commercial venture, then they should be treated like one. What you are asking for is a special privilege beyond what anyone else has a right to do just by dint of being a religious organization. Its not asking for rights at all. Its asking for undue advantages.

    If endorsement of political candidates is so important to a church or clergy, they should accept the price for it like everyone else does. The idea that a church can act like a tax exempt political action committee or a religious version of Trump Enterprises is inherently denigrating to religious belief and practice. There is no reason why a church should have greater privilege to engage in activities than everyone else.

    ” I would expect the better preachers would not descend to the depths of politics and thereby alienate members of their congregations. Nevertheless I defend their right to do so.”

    As do I, but they have no right to take advantage of their status as clergy to engage in such activities without the consequences everyone else must face.

  28. He wasn’t fired Spud, but, his right to make political decisions without consequences was denied him.

  29. There is no such right. All actions, even speech have consequences. We are talking about private industry, not the government.

  30. My impression is that the tax exempt organizations are deemed to have some noble purpose that has value to society. And I guess we agree so far. But I don’t know that engaging in politics somehow negates that noble purpose or sullies the organization. Not necessarily anyway.

    What is gained by creating a class of people (ministers, heads of charities, etc.) who do not have First Amendment rights to ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘to assemble’ (to form alliances), and Fourteenth Amendment rights to ‘equal protection’ and ‘due process’? Nothing is gained. These rights are essential to our democracy.

    You can’t stop political speech anyway. Witness the Catholic bishops’ ‘Fortnight of Freedom.’

  31. This is simply another red herring in the silly “Persecution of Christians in America” meme. Clergy can be as political as they want and the church can remain tax exempt as long as the pastor keeps her political activity separate from her church activities.

    It’s similar to the “No prayer in schools” myth. Students can pray all they want in schools. But they can’t disrupt classes or other activities with it, nor can they insist or somehow coerce anyone else to pray with them.

    No one’s political or religious rights are limited. They just have to play by the same rules as everyone else.

  32. “What is gained by creating a class of people (ministers, heads of
    charities, etc.) who do not have First Amendment rights to ‘freedom of
    speech’ and ‘to assemble’ (to form alliances), and Fourteenth Amendment
    rights to ‘equal protection’ and ‘due process’? Nothing is gained.
    These rights are essential to our democracy.”

    Its a false argument. You are deliberately pretending tax exemption is a necessary part of any of those rights. Of course it isn’t. They are more than welcomed to assemble and speak on whatever political subject they wish, to raise money for political causes and endorse specific political candidates. They can be treated like every other organization which does so. Without tax exemption like them as well.

    I can tell you what is gained by permitting clergy and religious organizations to act like PACs and commercial ventures with tax exemption. A distinct fiscal advantage over the secular versions of the same.

    Its not a matter of stopping political speech by clergy or churches. Its a matter of treating those who make it like everyone else. To not take advantage of a privilege which is granted in exchange for avoiding such things.

  33. American churches along with other nonprofits are state supported through grants for social services and through the income, sales and property tax codes in the form of exemptions or deductions that reduce donors’ taxable income.

    That being said, a person whether a layperson, a corporate representative or a cleric should have the right to speak their mind in public as an individual or in their professional role even if it sounds crazy to others or does not fit others’ interpretation of God or no god.

    The question is do corporations and non-profits have the same right to free speech as the individual without regard to tax status? Do corporations and nonprofits have the right to lobby? The right to make campaign contributions or purchase political advertisement? Limiting the financial and inkind contributions of organisations and must be made whether or not it is a secular or religious corporation.

  34. Churches that do a good job of teaching about Christ should have members that make the right choices on election day. From a practical point mixing Church and State has compromised every church into unholy partnerships. Look at the history of the Roman, Orthodox,and other state churches in Europe and Latin America. These churches permanently alienated many lay people and compromised the word of Christ. That is one reason Europe has lost much of its sense of religion and newer churches are making in roads in Latin America

  35. “Churches that do a good job of teaching about Christ should have members that make the right choices on election day. ” you said it beautifully. I agree.

  36. Citizens United pretty much dispensed with that line of reasoning.

  37. Possibly they would have financial advantage, depending on how PACs are taxed. But you cannot grant a privilege on condition of taking away a right which is a human right that is ‘inalienable’ (free speech). The religions possibly do have a First Amendment right to tax exemption if a tax could be construed as interference or even persecution of the religion.

    Unfortunately, religion in this country is allowed – unjustifiably – to violate some laws with impunity, such as, laws relating to nondiscrimination in employment. They are allowed to claim that anything they do, such as running a hospital or a nursing home, or building vast empires and administrative hierarchies, is part of their religion, and therefore not subject to law.

  38. “What you support is tax free dollars being used for political purposes. No other type of political organization gets to to that.” Really? Did you object when the tax-exempt NEA endorsed Hillary Clinton?

  39. I have no idea if they are tax exempt or not. If they are, and their tax exemption does not allow political endorsements– because not all tax exemptions are the same– then the shouldn’t be in politics like that. And you should feel free to file a grievance.

    But “johnny is doing it too” is hardly a defense.

  40. You have it backward. Nobody is giving up their rights here. They are giving up a privilege. Something they are not entitled to normally.
    One which gives you an advantage over others provided you meet its conditions.

    Of course people voluntarily waive rights in exchange for someone they deem more important. It’s a vital part to any contract be it commercial or social.

    Churches do not have a first amendment right to be tax exempt. It is just an accommodation. There is certainly a financial advantage to be had from tax exemption when carrying out these activities.

    Churches want to play by different rules than others. There is a price for doing that. We let them discriminate in their business and not pay income taxes in exchange for them voluntarily forgoing activities not related to the furtherance of their religious rites.

    If churches are going to act like PACs then we don’t need to treat them like churches. They aren’t being churches. To give churches privileges without forcing them to give something up in exchange is to exalt religion under the laws to the detriment of others.

  41. Supposedly you cannot waive an inalienable right. By definition it cannot be waived (check Google dictionary). For religion, I suspect the tax-exempt status is not a privilege but rather stems from the right to be free of state interference.

    Do you think Jesus never said anything political? But then he paid his taxes, didn’t he?

  42. Oh, we will allow you to have your free speech as long as you do not mention the name of a political candidate or talk politics while you are here.

  43. You’re getting close. Reread my comment closely and then give it another try.

  44. But Rev. Edd, you’re an ordained Unitarian minister and the head of a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit (though a small one with a PO box). How come you, Bishop Gene Robinson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Fr. Robert Drinan, et al all get to make political endorsements but not Cardinal Dolan, Rev. Franklin Graham, and others? (The IRS recognizes that the heads of 501 (c) (3), including Catholic bishops and geriatric Unitarian ministers who write crappy science fiction, can exercize their rights as private citizens. While Cardinal Dolan can’t endorse candidates from the pulpit, he can legally do so by writing an op-ed in a secular newspaper, interview in TV or cable news studio.)

    To you and your ilk, separation of church and state just means “don’t do or say anything to undermine the Democrats or oppose liberal policies.”

  45. Inalienable means it can’t be taken away. But it doesn’t mean you can’t voluntarily give it up in exchange for something. People do that constantly as contracts. In this case it is a social contract between Church and State. Churches avoid using their inherent undue and coercive influence to affect the state, in return the state waives it’s duty to two income from the church.

    You want privilege without consequences. To give churches power over others with nothing given in return.

    Do I care if Jesus ever said anything political? Don’t have to. Our laws would treat Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed the same. Like everyone else. When a church stops acting like a church we do t have to treat it as one.

  46. Limiting what a preacher may say in her own pulpit is just like limiting what may be printed in a newspaper by the newspaper owner. This is not analogous to prayer in a public school by teachers and students. Of course the preacher must be able to say what she wants to say (short of libel of course) while she is standing before her congregation. They have come to hear her speak, not mince words.

  47. Houses of worship are classified as 501 (c) (3) nonprofits and can’t engage in electioneering.

    Many colleges and universities, activist groups on the left and right, and even a number of magazines, journals, and newspapers are also registered with the 501 (c) (3) nonprofits and are subject to the exact, same restrictions as houses of worship.

    Here’s a quick list of 501 (c) (3) nonprofits: Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Mother Jones magazine, National Catholic Reporter, GLAAD, PETA, NAACP, Commonweal magazine, the Jewish “Forward” newspaper, Jewish Week, Catholics for Choice, American Jewish Committee, Alternet, Simon Wiesenthal Center, American Prospect, and the Progressive magazine.

    What keeps houses of worship from endorsing candidates is the tax exemption. Without it, what would stop churches from endorsing candidates from the pulpit, holding political rallies, and making campaign contributions?

  48. What’s the case for expecting houses of worship to obey IRS guidelines but letting them violate federal laws on immigration?

  49. Inalienable: “unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor.” Probably if the First Amendment were rewritten today it would be different, but as it stands, freedom of religion is not a privilege, it is a right, and freedom of speech is a right. I assume the Bill of Rights lists inalienable rights. There are also UN statements of rights. Yes, it is a problem to decide what is a church.

  50. You are being dishonest and ridiculous. You are wedded to a narrative which is completely untrue. At no point are churches without a right to free speech or unable to engage in political electioneering. They just can’t abuse their tax exemption to do it.

    BTW People give up their right to free speech voluntarily all the time, generally in exchange for some personal benefit. Nondisclosure agreements are perfectly legal and enforceable as are gag orders are part of a litigation settlement.

    Nobody is giving up first Amendment privileges here. They are giving up their purely discretionary and entirely tax statute based tax exemption. One which exists under narrow rules. Like every other tax exemption in existence.

    Churches are not entitled to tax exemptions as a matter of right. It is something granted to them by the IRS by following their rules. Which is why it’s a privilege. Something you can’t assume as a right.

  51. Not at all. There are limits an editor places on the reporters, columnists, etc, and certain pieces are routinely pulled. Same with the pulpit. The rev can make contributions, canvas, put signs in her yard, etc.

  52. An LA Times article (Stanley, Sep 23, 2008) discusses a Supreme Court decision that says that the ‘power to tax is the power to destroy.’ So this tax-exemption is not some favor that the IRS does for churches. It comes from the Supreme Court.

    While settlements may include gag orders, the US government may not enter into contracts that are contrary to the US Constitution or existing law. And there is no such contract as you mention.

    I will say goodnight as I have little patience for insults.

  53. Won’t repealing the Johnson Amendment also “reward” black ministers, Muslim clerics, rabbis, and Unitarian ministers who allegedly “led” their flocks into voting for Hillary?

  54. I have no desire to silence anyone’s political speech — I’m not that insecure. I’d rather see YOU complain about this tax-exempt campaigning that “no other organization does” but that nevertheless goes on all the time. Tell us all about the illegalities of the NAACP, NOW, La Raza, the Humane Society, People for the American Way, Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List, Sierra Club, and most notably Human Rights Campaign (“Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights”) — all tax-exempt non-profits and all of which publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

  55. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jul/22/donald-trump/donald-trump-correct-lyndon-johnson-passed-legisla/

    The Johnson amendment was championed by LBJ in 1954 when Johnson was a U.S. senator running for re-election. A conservative nonprofit group that wanted to limit the treaty-making ability of the president produced material that called for electing his primary opponent, millionaire rancher-oilman Dudley Dougherty, and defeating Johnson. There was no church involved.

    Johnson, then Democratic minority leader, responded by introducing an amendment to Section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code dealing with tax-exempt charitable organizations, including groups organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literacy and educational purposes, or to prevent cruelty to children or animals.

    “The logical argument favoring such an amendment is that those corporations qualifying for the section 501(c)(3) tax subsidy should not be permitted to directly or indirectly use that subsidy to support candidates for office,” said Michael Hone in the Case Western article.

    However it was likely, he said, that “Johnson was motivated by a desire to exact revenge on the foundation he believed supported his opponent and to prevent it and other nonprofitcorporations from acting similarly in the future.”

  56. https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/the-restriction-of-political-campaign-intervention-by-section-501-c-3-tax-exempt-organizations

    Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

    NOTE: “public statements of position (verbal or written),” now look at the statement made by the ADL concerning Donald Trump, during the 2016 US Presidential election campaign:

    http://www.adl.org/press-center/press-releases/extremism/adl-to-donald-trump-distance-yourself-white-supremacists-disavow-their-idealogy.html

    “Mr. Trump may have distanced himself from white supremacists, but he must do so unequivocally,” said Marvin D. Nathan, ADL National Chair, and Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “It is time for him to come out firmly against these bigoted views and the people that espouse them.”

    — Does that sound like a “public statement of position (verbal or written),”?

  57. Multifaith diversity is condemned in Exodus 23:33They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.”

  58. You should include full context: “public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”

    The IRS rules do not prohibit non-profits from giving commentary or addressing any remarks to or about a candidate and his/her positions. As long as they don’t advocate for or against that candidate winning or losing, and don’t tell voters who to vote for, they’re generally fine. This is why pastors can talk about issues from the pulpit every day and twice on Sunday without losing tax exempt status. And it is why this talk about repealing the Johnson amendment is so absurd.

    Bottom line: Somebody wants to have their cake and eat it to, i.e., some want pastors to be able to endorse/oppose candidates explicitly and by name without losing exempt status.

    All that being said, the ADL statement does skirt the edges of the IRS rules because their comments arguably do express bias against the candidate they’re discussing.

  59. Yes we know you can cut and paste. Usually when you use a legit source it doesn’t give you much of an argument.

    The fact that it still exists a half century after the fact showed Utes’s a workable law.

  60. And yet every non church organization which engages in the same behavior is taxed. It’s a cute quote, but makes little sense. Only churches are the ones who act in such a way and expect an extra privilege of tax exemption for doing so.

    The contract is a social one. Churches are given a break when they act like churches. They don’t when they abuse their status as churches to engage in unrelated activities.

    If you don’t like being called dishonest or ridiculous, then be more honest in your arguments and stop using such a fact free script here.

  61. Back in the day, the Puritans were not cool with freedom of religion. Thank god liberalism is the idea that evil deserves a fair chance. The freedom loving Quakers taught the Puritans a lesson by walking up and down the aisles undressed. Mass is at 9 am. If you want to coexist, just
    call and I’ll give you directions.

    After I stick my tea bags so far up your liberal mash potatoes your mouth stars as the family guy’s chin, we can go to the Church festival and share a Pelosi – a warm Italian dessert stuffed with pork and topped with bacon. Every year there is a Church gun sale.

    Philo, of the Alexandria Israelites, kicked a touchdown Buddha by reconciling Greek and Roman philosophy with God. The proverbs game was on the line. What would Caligula do?

    Thanks to the Flavians, one could make the argument that Jesus was a Roman creation
    that did such a good job of dividing the Jews that the Roman Empire was very
    peaceful from 70AD to 180AD. Titus called himself the son of God and God was
    his Ronald Reagan like dad. Emperor Vespasian is famous for saying “Damn
    it! I’m becoming a God!”. Titus Flavius Josephus wrote the History of the Roman
    Jewish War which matched the first three Gospels.

    Do you nestle by my bar stool?
    Making me so calm within
    Have you touch me with your warmness
    or have I wet myself again?

    Are you drinkin’ with me Jesus?
    I can’t see you very clear
    if you’re drinkin’ with me Jesus
    would you buy a friend a beer?

    But does your head pound with the message
    as hung over you do rise?
    Tell me what does heaven look like, Jesus?
    Seen through holy bloodshot eyes

    Or should we take a taxi home Jesus
    But can we simply hoof it from here?
    I know you can walk on the water
    But can you walk on this much beer?

    Are you drinkin’ with me Jesus?
    I can’t see you very clear
    if you’re drinkin’ with me Jesus
    would you buy a friend a beer?

    God Damn it Jesus! Buy me a fricking beer!

    Back in the day, the evil doers were doing so well the Romans round up all the Talmuds. Fast forward 2000 years and we’re sitting on the largest debt and governmental bubble in 6000 years – as good as it get for the first, second, or third coming. Jesus Christ, Catholic
    Churches are spawning Pokémon and Pope Francis likened ISIS to Jesus but Islam
    was an Augustinian screw up.

    About a century after the Roman empire became the Roman Catholic empire, the Germans were closing in on Rome. The Romans had to send all the troops to defend Rome and financed Mohammad to create a new religion to stop the Jews from taking back Jersuleum. After taking Jersuleum, the Muslim told Rome to take a hike.

  62. Ronald Reagan wasn’t a lifeguard. President Reagan was a
    life saver for opening the big pool for business. When the rich man goes off the end of innovation diving board, he or she swims to the side of the pool and gets back in line. Reagan also cut taxes along the virgin mother of economics.

    During the Elizabethan age, Queen Elizabeth took England
    from an indebted backwater to the dominate world power. King Phillip and Sir John Keynes did not bust her Friedrich Hayek and capitalist pirates. Her cast iron booty was pure silver and gold that’s why our founding fathers promoted
    the species in the Constitution but what Queen Elizabeth and her public corporations were all about has been forgotten.

    Queen Elizabeth wanted everyone to love her and loved to
    give. Her despotic suitors and predecessor weren’t smart enough to realize they had to take in order to give. Taxpaying parishioners love to give after they have plenty of earned success making other people happy. The English loved her and still love her to this day.

    Queen Elizabeth’s public corporations were a means to put a bloated bureaucracy through a Church of England basket strainer. If the taxpaying parishioners thought a project or bureaucracy was of no use then no money went into the collection basket.

    By separating what government needed to do and what everyone wanted done, she was able to lower the base flat tax rate. The virgin mother of economics made it very clear that her capitalist pirates had to walk the free market plank. There is a right and wrong way for fat cats, politicians, and bureaucrats to get some loving. The fat cats, at the end of the diving board, made everyone love them by putting more money in the collection basket. With the belly flop junk out of the system, the government pumps ran smoothly and the control valves worked.

    Should I build a pedestal or replace Hamilton with $10 Sarah Palin only wearing a gold and silver chasisty belt. I got my sister to tickle my elmos. I know I can do you.

  63. Political, religious, and economic thought all boils down to sex, drugs, and money.
    Second place is the first place loser but a peek is worth ten free market estimators. Reverse auction bid results can be turned into a low bid equation with a variance that looks something like this:

    Low Bid = (95% -1% times the number of bidders) times the
    average bid

    Companies, individuals, and countries play free market
    basketball on a diving board because an individual or organization can’t maximize their profits if they hit more often than the dummy. Since free markets come to an equilibrium between four and five bidders, a 5% drop in price is usually enough to jump to 15% higher overall hit rate. Government is a slam dunking monopoly that has proven to be 20% more expense than the free market. Socialism, Fascism, Marxism, Statism, etc. is four scarcity leaps backwards and corresponds with Carman’s and Kenneth’s findings.

    A Harvard Professor and previous President of IMF wrote a
    book called “This Time is Different” . Carman Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff studied fiscal crisis in 65 countries over 500 years. 1% GDP reduction in taxes increases private sector 3% in GDP. 1% GDP increase in Government Spending deceases private sector 1.2% GDP with a -0.2% change in GDP. Obviously a great deal of government debt can put a country at significant interest rate risk.

    If we go from a 38% tax rate to 20% tax rate with a balanced
    budget the private sector will grow from $11 Trillion to over $16 Trillion. Tax revenue won’t decrease 48%. Tax revenue will only decrease 24%. Half of Washington won’t have to go on a permanent vacation, only one out of four.Employment will increase 25% so displaced bureaucrats will have lots of new opportunities to contribute to society.

    If we get down to a balanced 10%, $20 Trillion – more than a
    60% increase in jobs if half of Washington goes on a permanent vacation, each dollar earned buys ($0.90/$0.62) 45% more, and hard America becomes a soft warm
    place.

    John Nash’s beautiful mind recognized the importance of
    interactions in which the results of one person’s choices depend not only on his own behavior but also on the choices of another person. There is a related game called Ultimatum. You and your partner split $10. Less than $3 deals disgust and anger. The dealer has a pulpit.

    The Laffer effect is no joke. Charles Adams, an international tax attorney and historian, wrote books on taxes. Once tax rates rise above the disgust and anger point, the expected extra tax revenue never shows up. A flat tax system is part of Constitution. Everyone has to pay taxes to keep as many people’s tax rate below the disgust and anger tax rate or make sure an overwhelming majority is disgusted with high taxes. Free market innovation boils down to a desire for players to hit a third of their shots.

    Dealers can routinely get an $8 to $10 deal by getting his or her partner work for a $3 to $5 deal. With each $3 to $5 of earned success the partner becomes a dealer that turns the $3 to $5 deal into $6 to $8 of earned success. Turning $10 into $13 is a win-win systemic solution that creates good people, great outcomes, and durable trust but when it rains, rainmakers show up and turn everything to dirt.

    There will always be zero-sum losers who just accept less
    than $3 deals and think the key to success is being an abusive dealer. A $7-$3 deal isn’t better than a $6-$4 deal because $7-$3 deals turn into $6-$2, $5-$1, and $4-two bit deals. Rainmakers turn everything to dirt because they feel
    entitled to $7up and someone else has to pay for the diet $7up.

    Obama and company’s overall 30% to 40% tax and spend
    policies have systemically increased the public sector by 25% and eliminated 10 million private sector jobs. Present day Switzerland, Russia, and much of Eastern Europe are 15% tax and spend countries.

  64. Mr Cavalli is wrong. I am not a minister. He just imagined that. Further, I write as an individual citizen and follow the rules for 501(c)(3) organizations.

  65. My mistake. One of your online biographies states that you “preached” in numerous Unitarian churches.

    What about Al Sharpton, Bishop Gene Robinson, and so on?

    Catholic cardinals and bishops can exercise as private citizens as well. The fact such exercise may get a lot of attention and perhaps influence people is no reason to curb the other parts of the First Amendment.

  66. You stated without evidence that evangelical ministers “led” 81 percent their flock to support Trump and suggest repealing the Johnson Amendment was a “reward.”

    Yet this “reward” would also benefit black ministers, rabbis, Muslim clerics, and Unitarian ministers whose congregations supported Hillary Clinton. (I put “led” in quotes.)

  67. I am not a preacher. However, I have been the guest speaker at over 100 Unitarian congregations in 30 states, plus assorted Methodist, Jewish, Baptist, Adventist, Ethical Society congregations, not to mention Catholic and other audiences and frequent radio and TV appearances.

    As for Catholic hierarchy involvement in politics, I suggest you read John Coomey’s eye-opening book, The American Pope: The Life and Times of Francis Cardinal Spellman.

    Edd Doerr

  68. Do you agree that a Catholic cardinal or bishop can legally endorse a candidate by writing an op-ed in a secular newspaper, giving an in-studio interview on FOX or CNN, or at the candidate’s press conference on a public street? IRS guidelines suggest, but do not require, that heads of 501 (c) (3) nonprofits mention that they are speaking for themselves and not their organization.

    Or do you believe that a cardinal or bishop can’t even reveal to a reporter whom they will vote for if asked?

    In fact, any Catholic cardinal or bishop who wishes to make an endorsement should keep a copy of the Rev. Barry Lynn’s, the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), defense of Bishop Gene Robinson’s endorsement of Barack Obama for the 2008 election.

  69. Post-election polls show that 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump. Other than evangelical “pastors”, few clergy were found to have supported candidates from the pulpit.

  70. Answer the question. Why can’t Catholic cardinals and bishops make endorsements as private citizens?

    Paul Blanshard onimously wrote that the Catholic hierarchy “was entering the political arena.” John M. O’Neill responded that what Blanshard described as “entering the political arena” in the form of taking stands on policy issues, criticizing elected officials, etc. was no different than the activities of Protestant and Jewish leaders.

  71. Actually Pew research showed that black ministers were far more likely to discuss the election and make endorsements than white evangelicals, who have been voting Republican for decades.

  72. LOL! It’s “workable” solely because it isn’t enforced. It’s toast.

  73. Read Catholic author Coomey’s book on Spellman and you will have the answer.

  74. Cavalli conveniently overlooks the fact that black ministers are compensating for 250 years of slavery, plus another 150 years of racism and discrimination.

  75. I want your answer as to why Catholic cardinals and bishops can’t exercise their indiclvidual rights unlike everyone else.

  76. Not an argument.

    IRS guidelines (which make no such distinctions) and the rule of law have to apply equally to everyone.

    Don’t be a hypocrite.

  77. No, all it shows is that the rotating GOP and Democratic party administrations are, as most people understand, servants of the same Christ hating Zionist lobbies like the ADL, AIPAC, etc, Wall Street lobbyists, corporations and (((media conglomerates))).

    Now, at long last, there is a significant break with that (((establishment))), with Donald Trump’s election to POTUS, a position he thoroughly earned after nearly the entire news and entertainment media establishment openly sided with Hillary Clinton.

    GOP establishment “Bush era” neocon hacks also did everything they could to hurt Trump’s chances against Hillary Clinton.

  78. I love that you are the ultimate cure for Christian apologists who want to pretend neo Nazi cretins like you are somehow not part of the same faith.

    I also love it that you guys consider Trump one of you. This way when people call POTUS a fascist scumbag, it isn’t hyperbole. Opposing his nonsense becomes the duty of freedom loving Americans.

    BTW there is no way in hell I am going to click blind links from you.

    Are you annoyed that several subreddits you guys infested were shut down?

  79. Sadly, reality does not match that prescription.

  80. What makes me happy is how Trump’s presidential campaign, and even more so, his presidency, has forced the left, the self-proclaimed progressives, to come out in the open in their support for the globalist financial order that they have pretended to oppose for so long.

    This article from the leftist Guardian news website, written by Jonathan (((Freedland))) shows the left’s anguish at having been forced out into the open in their support for international organizations like the EU, and international mega trade deals like NAFTA, the TPP.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/04/white-house-agenda-collapse-global-order-war

    Some delicious extracts from Jonathan (((Freedlands))) article.

    All this leaves liberals and the left in an unfamiliar, unwanted position. Progressives seek progress: their preferred stance is advocating for change, for improving on the status quo. But the great shifts of 2016 have left them – us – in a new place. Suddenly we find ourselves campaigning not for what could be, but for what was.

    It’s not just that Trump’s proposed EU envoy actively looks forward to the unravelling of the EU, hoping it goes the way of the Soviet Union. It’s that Trump sees multilateral cooperation as a limp-wristed strategy for losers, preferring to make bilateral deals that work for him. That triggers a Darwinian scramble, in which every nation looks out only for itself – and damn the arrangements that previously held the world together.

  81. Praying is antithetical to thinking. And prayer simply doesn’t work.

  82. I am glad you find screwing up the US economy and diplomatic relations are something to be proud of. Cretins are so short sighted and easily amused with turning things to crap.

  83. More choice extracts from (((Freedlands))) article exposing the left’s support for unpopular internationalist orders. The mask is falling off, the true face of the left is exposed, it’s about time.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/04/white-house-agenda-collapse-global-order-war

    Take those rebel Labour MPs who voted against the triggering of article 50. They were singing hymns of praise for the status quo ante, for a union of European nations that has brought peace, co-operation and stability.

    Of course, in normal times they would prefer to be pointing out the EU’s flaws, demanding it go further in, say, environmental or worker protection. But the battle lines have shifted in these last 12 months. Now progressives are fighting desperately to hold on to what we’ve got, trying to stop the unravelling going any further.

    Plenty on the left will have disliked much about the postwar architecture that held up since 1945: too US-dominated, too tilted in favour of the rich and powerful. But now they see Trump and others take a wrecking ball to the UN, the EU and much else, they may be having second thoughts.

  84. I’m very blessed Iktar in that I have a wonderful pastor who teaches verse by verse.
    I know there are a lot – too many – assemblies who call themselves “church” who teach lies in Jesus name. It’s very sad and very dishonouring to Christ.
    The “pastors” of those will stand before the Lord one day.

  85. At least you included the original link. So I don’t have to bother to read your nonsense edits and emphasis.

    Studies have shown that people who use triple parentheses in online posts are sexually inadequate.

  86. They can, but they usually aren’t. Which is why it’s a problem

    Because in the overwhelming majority of instances, they are deliberately using their title and resources of their church to make the endorsement. As if their religious authority compels parishioners to follow suit. It is virtually never as an individual exercising a personal preference.

    You are not really honestly addressing the issue. You are working off a dishonest premise.

    Nobody has ever claimed clergy can’t endorse candidates as individuals. It doesn’t run afoul of the Johnson Amendment. It’s when they do so on behalf of their churches the problem exists.

  87. Ignorant and dishonest question. Churches or any private citizens do not have a duty to enforce immigration laws. Only federal government officials and those deputized by them.

  88. Nothin worse than the buybull by verse. Your “lord” never comes and you wait for Godot; your religion is the ultimate scam ’cause it never has to deliver and you keep giving it your money.

  89. Iktar, we’ve previously established here that when Sandi responds with her standard derisive comebacks such as “lol” or “yawn”, she’s acknowledging that she can’t support her case and that you have won the discussion. So, congrats, you just triumphed in yet another debate with Sandi.

  90. That an 50¢ will buy you a half a candy bar that used to cost a nickel.

  91. Only if the endorsement is done from the pulpit. A cardinal or bishop can endorse candidates as private citizens.

    An endorsement by a cardinal, bishop, rabbi, black minister, or celebrity with millions of Twitter followers is just that: an endorsement–or an encouragement to vote for someone. Which seems consistent with democracy.

    The fact that influential people could influence enough voters, especially Catholic ones and make a difference in close elections, is no reason for hypocrisy and an inconsistent application of government regulations.

    For the record, the last Catholic bishop who actually endorsed a presidential candidate was NY Auxiliary Bishop Emerson Moore, who was black, who endorsed the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the 1984 Democratic primary. Catholic New York, the Archdiocesan newspaper, covered the endorsement as a news item and noted that the bishop was speaking for himself as a private citizen and not the archdiocese as an organization.

    Once some low-life Democrat filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against some race car pit crew chief who dared put a Bush-Cheney decal on his race car (and because the race was broadcast on television).

    Can you image a Republican lowlife filing a complaint against Meryl Street for her anti-Trump speech, which was televised, and arguing that it should be classified as a campaign contribution?

  92. Let me get this straight.

    You’re actually that black ministers should be able to violate IRS guidelines because of centuries of slavery, racism, and discrimination and endorsement candidates of the Democratic Party that championed slavery in the 19th century and racial segregation until the middle of the 20th century?

    Of course, if a black minister endorses a Republican (from the pulpit), that would be wrong and worth being slapped down by the IRS.

    Mister Edd, it would be an insult to situational ethicists to accuse you of practicing situational ethics.

  93. You didn’t read your own link too closely.

    “Current law does not require social service agencies to obtain evidence of legal status before rendering aid, nor should it”

    As I was saying….

  94. Richard Spencer wants to use the power of the state to curb “Jewish influence.”

    Mister Edd wants to use the power of the state to curb “Catholic influence.”

    Everybody to their own taste.

    For the record, I don’t favor restricting the rights of atheists, agnostics, Unitarians, Muslims, Hindus, et al to influence public policy or candidates (as private citizens separate from any 501 (c) (3) they might lead or be affiliated).

  95. Of course as private citizens. But when they use the resources of their church to support the campaign of given candidate, they forego any pretense of doing that. Hence they should not expect tax exemption for such activities.

    It is a false narrative that clergy are prohibited from exercising their free speech rights here. Nothing is further from the truth. The reality is that in most cases they value the privileges of tax exemption more. They can and their churches can. But when they work towards the election campaign of political candidates, they cease to act like churches and instead take on the form of glorified PACs. There is no reason why such activity should be allowed using the church’s tax exemption.

    “Can you image a Republican lowlife filing a complaint against Meryl
    Street for her anti-Trump speech, which was televised, and arguing that
    it should be classified as a campaign contribution?”

    That is kind of a regular thing. Republicans are always complaining about stuff like that.

  96. I do NOT want the state to curb “Catholic influence.” I want the state to apply the law equally to all traditions and to uphold our constitutional separation of church and state.

  97. But you said that the Catholic hierarchy must be barred from participating in politics because of allegations that appear in a sensationalistic biography of Cardinal Spellman, whose claims were challenged and sources questioned.

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