Will Trump’s ‘Greatest Contribution to Christianity’ Be Repealing the Johnson Amendment?

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Republican nominee pledges to repeal Johnson Amendment. But pastors debate endorsing politicians from pulpits.

Last night in his speech accepting the Republican party nomination for president, Donald Trump again called for a repeal of Lyndon B. Johnson’s ban on tax-exempt groups endorsing political candidates.

“At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical community, who have been so good to me and so supportive,” Trump said. He went on:

They have so much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits. An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.

In an unusual move, Politifact rated Trump’s claim as true.

Trump first announced his intention to repeal the amendment in February, and reiterated it to about 1,000 evangelical leaders last month.

“I think maybe that will be my greatest contribution to Christianity—and other religions—is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly, and if you like somebody or want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do it,” said Trump at the event. “People walking down the street have more power than you, because they can say whatever they want.”

Repealing the amendment figured prominently in Trump’s platform meetings, Timemagazine reports.

“They understand the importance of religious organizations and nonprofits, but religious organizations in particular, which is what the Johnson Amendment affects, to have the ability to speak freely, and that they should not live in fear of the IRS,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and a member of the GOP platform committee, told Time.

Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., one of Trump’s earliest evangelical supporters, called the repeal “almost as important for Christians as the appointment of Supreme Court justices.”

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra