Trump Endorses Repeal of Law Restricting Pastoral Speech

Dustin Siggins

Document Publication: The Stream -

Publication Date: July 18, 2016

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Presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has endorsed the repeal of a 1954 law that restricts the free speech of churches and pastors in exchange for tax-exempt status.
“You are absolutely shunned if you are an evangelical if you want to talk [politics], you lose your tax-exempt status,” said Trump in his speech on Friday introducing Vice Presidential pick Indiana Governor Mike Pence.* “We put it into the platform. We’re going to get rid of that horrible Johnson Amendment.”
The Johnson Amendment, pushed by then-Senator Lyndon Johnson as he ran for re-election, aimed to stop church and educational groups’ support for his and his allies’ opponents, according to a law professor cited by Time. Others cited by the magazine said that it was designed to keep black churches from supporting the civil rights movement.
Priests for Life National Director Father Frank Pavone told The Stream that while his group wants the Johnson Amendment gone, policymakers should take an “incremental” approach that includes “a bright-line test” to provide clarity to religious leaders on what is and is not permitted. Additionally, he said, “our point is not that the Church should endorse candidates, but that the decision of how far the Church goes in endorsements or in other political commentary should be a decision of the Church, not the government.”

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