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AU And Allies Respond To Far-Right Attacks On Johnson Amendment

Attacks continued over the summer on the Johnson Amendment, the federal law that for more than 60 years has ensured that tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, do not endorse or oppose political candidates.

President Donald J. Trump, backed by some members of Congress and Religious Right leaders, is pushing to repeal or weaken the provision. Trump has repeatedly vowed to “get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment,” a promise he reiterated during a July 13 interview with TV preacher Pat Robertson on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Jay Talking

Religious Right attorney Jay Sekulow was not having a good day.

Defending President Donald J. Trump on “Fox News Sunday” June 18, Sekulow was supposed to stress the point that Trump was not being investigated by any federal law-enforcement agencies. 

Sekulow ended up saying the opposite – twice.

“Sir, you just said two times that he’s being investigated,” host Chris Wallace said to a sputtering Sekulow during a piece of the segment. Video footage soon went viral on social media.

Battling The Ban

The pace of the legal battle over President Donald J. Trump’s Muslim ban remained brisk over the summer.

On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review two of the cases involving Trump’s executive order that bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. The high court is scheduled to hear arguments on Oct. 10 in Trump v. Hawaii and Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project.

Trump's Voucher Onslaught

­­­President Donald J. Trump and Education Secretary Betsy De­Vos continue to push for private school vouchers – even though they still haven’t laid out a specific plan for what their federally funded program would look like.

Following up on his campaign promise ultimately to funnel $20 billion in taxpayer money to fund vouchers and similar programs, Trump introduced his proposed 2018 fiscal year budget on May 23 that would set aside $250 million to expand vouchers.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Again Fails to Say Voucher Programs Shouldn’t Allow Discrimination

Public money should fund public schools, but President Donald J. Trump’s federal budget would send $250 million in public money to vouchers for private, often religious, schools. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos once again went to the Hill to defend the budget, this time, before a Senate committee.

Out Of Order

For months, there were reports that President Donald J. Trump was preparing an executive order that would negatively redefine religious freedom. On May 4, he signed that order – sort of.

Surrounded by faith leaders on the White House lawn and using the National Day of Prayer as a backdrop, Trump released his misleadingly named executive order, “Promoting Free Speech And Religious Liberty.”

Americans United: Trump Executive Order Harms Religious Freedom And Undermines Protections For Houses Of Worship And Women

Religious Freedom Advocacy Group Says Trump’s Use Of National Day Of Prayer Shows His Zeal For Showmanship Over Sincerity

President Donald Trump’s latest executive order is a direct attack on religious freedom, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“Exploiting the National Day of Prayer to trample religious freedom highlights Trump’s zeal to substitute showmanship for sincerity,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn. “Today, the president pandered to his far-right fundamentalist base, upending protections for houses of worship and allowing religion to be used as an excuse to deny women coverage for contraception and other preventive health care.”

Groups Tell Congress To Oppose Church Politicking

Americans United joined a coalition of 4,500 national, state and local groups that on April 5 sent a letter to congressional leaders advising them to leave intact a federal law that bars tax-exempt, non-profit groups, including houses of worship, from intervening in partisan politics.

Polls Show Americans Do Not Support Repealing The Johnson Amendment

Three recent polls continued to demonstrate a majority of Americans do not support President Donald J. Trump’s call to “get rid of and totally destroy” the federal law that bars non-profit groups, including houses of worship, from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.

This provision of the tax code, known as the “Johnson Amendment” for then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, who sponsored it in 1954, is designed to prevent tax-exempt groups from acting like political action committees.

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