In the name of protecting religious freedom, U.S. President Donald Trump again vowed to repeal the Johnson Amendment. Speaking at his first National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday February 2, Trump said that religious freedom is “under threat.”
The Johnson amendment is an amendment to the Internal Revenue Service code that prevents pastors, religious leaders and non-profits from campaigning for or against any political candidate, among other things.
“I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” Trump said at a high-profile event that draws faith leaders, politicians and dignitaries together once each year.
Though Trump made a similar pledge during his presidential campaign, he did not detail how he plans to scrap the rule or how quickly he will do so.
Religious conservatives overwhelming supported Trump’s bid for the White House. They are watching him closely because they want protections for religious objectors to gay marriage and abortion among other things. Trump had been the most outspoken presidential candidate on conservative religious issues.
Evangelical leaders want more power. It is inherent in their agenda to make America follow more conservative religious ideals. This may include Sunday observance. And the liberals, like the LGBTQ community, are running scared. They fear progress in their “equality” campaign to force Christians to accept their lifestyle even in their public business dealings, is about to be curtailed.
“We think it is entirely possible there could be an executive order that creates religious exemptions,” said James Esseks, LGBT project director for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The ‘narrative’ that Trump won’t harm the LGBTQ community was ‘not correct.’”
By putting Christians in power, the LGBT community will certainly feel they will have been harmed. But so far Trump left intact an Obama executive order that protects workers for federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
Gay rights supporters think Trump “could sign an executive order that would allow religious organizations that receive federal money — like charities or hospitals — to make hiring and other decisions based on religion. They also said he could offer a more wide-ranging order.”
In a letter to Roman Catholics during the campaign, Trump wrote, “I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions.”
Trump’s Supreme Court pick this week was also considered a positive sign to conservative Christians. Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, “sided with Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor when they mounted religious objections to the Obama administration’s requirement that employers provide health insurance that includes contraceptives.”
While many of Donald Trumps decisions and actions will be good for America, the implications of giving the churches more power will dramatically affect the way they relate to government. Will they cement their power over the state? Will they bring America back to the balance of liberty, or will they go to an equal and opposite reaction and trample on the rights of minority faiths? Perhaps not during Trump’s time in office, but the Bible predicts that Protestants in the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to clasp hands with spiritualism and Romanism and trample on rights of conscience.
“The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.” The Great Controversy, page 588.
“In the last conflict the Sabbath will be the special point of controversy throughout all Christendom. Secular rulers and religious leaders will unite to enforce the observance of the Sunday; and as milder measures fail, the most oppressive laws will be enacted.” Maranatha, page 188.