Political Sermons: 3 Reasons Repealing Johnson Amend. Bad Idea

**An eyebrow raising move that signals #ReligiousLobbying as a top priority on #45’s list of priorities.**

In two weeks, Trump has upended domestic and international policies.  Like many of you, I’ve had jaw-dropping “what the…” moments one too many times.

With the whirlwind of activity, we must pick the poisons worthy of #action or #condemnation. Many issues bugged.

Worthy Poison A:  The repeal of the Johnson Amendment.  Why?  Because it goes against a core principle of our democracy–the separation of church and state.  The silver-lining?  Congress has the final say, and it’s most likely a no-go.  But it pumps Trump supporters. And the rest of us?  I don’t know about you, but I need less coffee these days!

Separation of Church and State. Secular Governing. Escaping religious oppression led our founders to establish settlements and colonize these United States.  The original idea was meant to protect the church from state, not the other way around. However, religion entering our politics is just as dangerous, as we’ve seen.

Threat to Secular Governing:  At last week’s #NationalPrayerBreakfast Trump vowed to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, signaling an IRS reversal that would allow religious institutions to publicly endorse and give money to politicians. Proponents argue that religious institutions should not be muzzled in their support of political figures from the pulpit or pocketbook. It’s a First Amendment Rights argument that can cut both ways. (Amendment defined at page end.)

The Reasoning Against a Repeal:

  • Today’s GOP garners support from religious groups—notably Evangelist—that tend to vote on fringe issue related to the church such as abortion and LGBT rights. Such an appeal would only strengthen a strategy that has created a cornerstone-constituency of Tea Partiers and GOP conservatives. Evangelicals voted for Trump by a margin of 81-16 on November 8, 2016 according to exit polls.
  • The most obvious problem is the hypocrisy. This country was founded on religious freedom that has a clear delineation with constituent politics.
  • The other point to consider is religious institutions are not-for-profits, thus tax exempt, but make plenty of money with little oversight; and they are good at cajoling money from congregations. If anything, we need financial stipulations that hold religious institutions accountable.   John Oliver did a great bit on this in August 2015.

Johnson Amendment:  Named after then Sen. Lyndon Johnson who introduced the bill in 1954.

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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