In addition to an executive order greenlighting LGBT discrimination, President Trump may also sign another executive order on churches’ political activity.
Both Reuters and the New York Times reported that the Trump administration is planning to commemorate tomorrow’s National Day of Prayer with the signing of an order that would relax restrictions on political statements made by clergy.
While a longstanding rule known as the Johnson Amendment stipulates that clergy members who back political candidates from the pulpit could risk their tax-exempt status, the new order will reportedly issue new guidelines to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for how to enforce the Johnson Amendment. Trump is unable to fully do away with the Johnson Amendment, as it’s a provision of the U.S. tax code that would have to be repealed by Congress.
Repealing the rule was one of then-candidate Trump’s chief promises to Christian Evangelicals while on the campaign trail. After his inauguration, President Trump doubled down on his promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment.
“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,” Trump said in February.
While the order will likely please Trump’s diehard Republican evangelical base, a recent survey shows that most clergy members would rather not bring politics into their houses of worship. The National Association of Evangelicals conducted a survey of 112 church leaders in February, and found that 90 percent of respondents said they don’t think it’s appropriate for a pastor to endorse a candidate from the pulpit.
The Times also reports that the order will be separate from a previously announced executive order that will pave the way for business owners and others to discriminate against LGBT citizens under the guise of “religious liberty.” Actor and activist George Takei called for a march on Washington in response to the “religious liberty” order, and immediately went viral with promises to bring LGBT Americans and straight allies together for an as-yet unscheduled march.
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.