Restoring free speech for churches is right thing to do, but wrong way to do it

Trump signs executive order today. (AP photo via NBC)

A law without enforcement is not a law.

Just as Obama essentially repealed the nation’s immigration laws by refusing to enforce them, Trump’s executive order telling the IRS to not enforce the congressionally passed Johnson Amendment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.


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.





12 comments on “Restoring free speech for churches is right thing to do, but wrong way to do it

  1. robertleebeers says:

    TX rep Hughes said this a while ago, “One of the most abused phrases in American history comes from Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association from January 1802. In his letter, Jefferson uses the phrase “separation between church and state” to assure the association there would be no establishment of a national religion by Congress.”

    Perhaps it is time to revisit how the courts have interpreted the US Constitution and remove every ruling that cannot be clearly supported in the original language. One of those is the listing of powers in article 1. Nowhere in there is the power to tell any church whether or not it is allowed to participate in the political arena where the end result will directly affect its members.

  2. […] Source: Restoring free speech for churches is right thing to do, but wrong way to do it « 4TH ST8 […]

  3. deleted says:

    Hrump. Mealy mouthed “slap” of the morons clearly unconstitutional act.

    Geez man. Call a spade a spade. Even if it does suit your purposes otherwise what are principles for?

  4. Look: Spade!

    There is no satisfying some people.

  5. Steve says:

    There he goes again

  6. Barbara says:

    This executive order is pretty much meaningless. Not too much has changed. It is still up to the IRS to approve or disapprove tax exempt status. Planned parenthood, the largest abortion provided and seller of baby parts funded, Christian business owners still can be sued for not participating in gay weddings, etc. He who pays the fiddler calls the tune, and the government still has the American people acting as marionettes.

  7. deleted says:

    I fear for our republic when self professed “conservatives” who are never hesitant (leastways when a democratic president is in office) to attack the use of executive or as they typically assert “the unconstitutional use of executive orders” by the president become mealy mouthed in their….comments, when unconstitutional executive orders are used by a “president” who has acted in ways more conservative than conservative stalwarts like Ronald Reagan.

    What happened to principles I wonder?

  8. Steve says:

    Principles were stored on a private, unsecured, email server!

  9. deleted says:

    I agree with Stoners sentiment; torturing Ammon Bundy.

    Hey, conservatives say it’s alright then it must be alright, right?

  10. Rincon says:

    It would be unfortunate if Ammon Bundy was really being tortured, but in today’s world, there is no way do distinguish those that lie from those that tell the truth. I think I’ll go get a sandwich.

  11. dave72 says:

    So the churches can continue fleecing the flocks without a peep from Uncle Sam AND begin handing out religious endorsements to certain candidates? What’s next, a literal religious test provided by churches in order to earn such support? Here in the age of Citizens United, free speech also means unbridled (and secret) financial support for candidates. I personally would love to know which denomination has my representative in its pocket and how the potential lawmaker plans to carry out its agenda using government fiat.

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