President Trump in an attempt to appease his evangelical voter base, last week signed the Religious Freedom Executive order. This executive order aims to relinquish some of the terms of the 1954 Johnson Amendment. Which was established by Lydon B. Johnson while he was in congress. The piece of legislation spearheaded by Johnson , abolished tax-exempt status of any religious institutions that had leaders that endorsed political candidates. Trump ,a relatively non-theological individual, expressed would lift oppressive restrictions on free speech for religious institutions.
While I am personally an atheist, I am quite conflicted in regards to this decree by King Trump. I fully support free speech regardless of the institution or the paradigm. However, did the Johnson amendment really prohibit the right of nonprofit organizations to express endorsement of a political candidate? Did it prohibit them from being politically active? Well, depends on the angle you examine it from. Nowhere does the amendment legally prohibit such institutions from doing so, however, they would forfeit an advantageous tax break. So it could interpreted as a covert manner of pressuring them not to become involved in politics. However, are all of these religious establishments truly nonprofit and are they all equivalent to their adjacent cousins nonprofit charities? I find it to be slightly far fetched to view one of these highly successful corporate mega churches as anything less than a successful corporations. Per Forbes, back in 2009, such churches earn 8.5 billion dollars a year in income. Which may seem minute in comparison to that of the tech industry, however, is still a staggering number. Do I really belief that pastors such as Joel Olsteen , whom as been involved in money related scandals, aren’t profiting, no! Which overall makes the waters all the more murky. While I personally am not a proponent of taxation it is a necessary evil that should be kept to minimum. However, if am institution that is masquerading as nonprofit and earning millions or billions of dollars, shouldn’t they have to pay to play? Microsoft has the right to publicly endorse political candidates, then again they are taxed accordingly. However, at the same time I also believe in religious freedom and free speech. While leads me to the inquiry of was the Johnson amendment, in a roundabout way defacto censorship of the political voice of religious institutions? Maybe, it was just a safeguard for keeping the separation of church and state? I do not know if I am qualified to answer that question. However, it does feel like this move by Trump at the very least is disingenuous. It feels like the harlot is pandering to his middle-America Evangelical voter base. Which I hope is painful transparent to that demographic. I hardly belief a man of god is grabbing hookers from Eastern European by the pussy.