Wisconsin-based atheist group sues Trump over church order

Pic Reuters

President Donald Trump reaches out to Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King Jr., during a National Day of Prayer event at the White House on Thursday. Trump signed an executive order directing the IRS to avoid cracking down on political activity by religious groups.

The law prohibits tax-exempt charitable organizations such as churches from participating directly or indirectly in any political campaign to support or oppose a candidate.

"The religious freedom of individuals and organizations, including that of clergy and houses of worship, is already protected by the First Amendment and federal law".

President Trump on Thursday signed the order on religious freedom, which directs the Treasury Department to not take "adverse action" over churches or religious organisations for political speech. "Today's executive order will not affect that longstanding policy", said LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins.

According to a summary released by the White House on Wednesday, the order addresses three areas of concern.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: Many evangelical Christians have long wanted religious people to have more freedom to act on their religious beliefs, more freedom, for example, to reject same-sex unions and transgender identities.

Evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders as well as a prominent USA rabbi joined Trump when he signed the order instructing the Internal Revenue Service to "alleviate the burden of the Johnson Amendment", the 1954 law prohibiting organizations with tax-free status, including churches, from participating in political campaigns or supporting particular candidates.

President Trump signed an executive order today that promotes religious liberty throughout the federal agencies in general and in certain specific areas.

On the National Day of Prayer, a time when people reaffirm their faith, President Donald Trump showed his through a new executive order.

"Congress needs to codify particularly the repeal of the Johnson Amendment", he states. "With this executive order, we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty". "We will see Trump in court, again", ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said in a statement.

The ACLU looked at Trump's executive order and found that there was no policy to it. The Madison, Wisconsin-based group argues in the filing that the order is unconstitutional because it grants preferential treatment to religious organizations while secular groups must still abide by the law.

DAVID SAPERSTEIN: What is a pastor to if a congregant who's a major donor says, I'll give you the gift this year but only if you endorse such a candidate?

"The order portends, but does not yet do harm to the provision of reproductive health services", he added.

"With respect to the Johnson Amendment, at least technically, the legal effect of the order appears to be minimal", he said.

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