Below is an excerpt. Read the entire article The Wanderer.
Thanks to the Trump administration, pastors needn’t be concerned about their churches losing tax-exempt status because they’ve provided political information, a veteran priest and pro-life activist told The Wanderer during a July 30 telephone interview.
While Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life (priestsforlife.org), reviewed various efforts that the Florida-based international Catholic organization is making to educate voters as the November midterm elections approach, he mentioned President Trump’s executive order issued in May 2017.
“If there were ever a year when pastors do not have to be concerned about that,” Pavone said, Trump “has made so clear” through his executive order that “the federal government is not going to punish churches for speaking about politics.”
The Washington-based conservative Daily Signal website posted on May 4, 2017 that Trump’s “executive order states that the administration’s policy is to protect religious liberty. It directs the Internal Revenue Service to use maximum discretion to alleviate the law governing churches and partisan politics, known as the Johnson Amendment.”
The Johnson Amendment, Pavone told The Wanderer, “is all bark and no bite…and the guidelines are so vague, one could easily challenge them on the grounds of vagueness.”
Pavone discussed voter training provided by Priests for Life that is “very much geared to an interdenominational audience,” including in-person and online training where he hopes “the participation in these seminars is in the tens of thousands.”
Upcoming in-person training is scheduled for Troy, Mich., on August 17, Cincinnati on September 5 and 6, and Titusville, Fla., on September 8 and 29.
Priests for Life recently moved its headquarters from Staten Island, N.Y., to Titusville, located near the Kennedy Space Center on the Atlantic coast.
More information, including regarding the online training, is at voteforlifetraining.org, he said, while electionprayer.com provides spiritual preparation.
The training includes such basics as voter registration, deadlines, and the general election, Pavone said. “We train people how to be attentive to this information,” then educate their fellow citizens.
“We try to get people thinking in a dual way,” he said, so that they ponder not only their own ballot but also “how can I influence other people . . . to cast the best vote?”
Comparing and contrasting the Republican and Democratic Parties’ platforms continues to be a very popular feature, he said. Democrats are “no longer the party people are used to” but stand for “Godlessness and death,” Pavone said.
Nationalizing this year’s midterm election issues is important, he said. “We believe it’s to our advantage to do that.”
Pointing to the importance of every contest, Pavone said, “Even a local congressional district race…could potentially shift the balance of power in the House of Representatives.”
Pavone said he recommends following political news at the Real Clear Politics and Cook Political Report sites (realclearpolitics.com and cookpolitical.com).
A traditional obstacle to direct distribution of pro-life voter information has been church pastors’ concern they’re causing legal problems for themselves.
In addition, Pavone said, some uncooperative pastors are trying “to shield themselves from liberal Democratic parishioners” who would object over factual information about their party being made available.