Religious liberty is one of the bedrocks of any free society, a truth our founders clearly recognized, as it was the Christian faith that inspired the documents that now rule the land.Back in the day — way, way back — pastors and preachers used to discuss political matters from the pulpit, believing that God was truly Ruler over every area of life, including the civic realm.
Unfortunately, over the years that followed the founding of our nation, the government slowly placed muzzles on this sort of activity in churches, threatening to deny these institutions tax-exempt status if they didn’t stay silent.Well, today, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that frees up local churches to participate in political activity.
According to The Washington Post:
President Trump on Thursday said he would direct the Internal Revenue Service to relax enforcement of rules barring tax-exempt churches from participating in politics as part of a much-anticipated executive order on religious liberties.The order — which Trump formally unveiled in a Rose Garden ceremony with Christian leaders — also offers unspecified “regulatory relief” for religious objectors to an Obama administration mandate, already scaled back by the courts, that required contraception services as part of health plans, the officials said.
“For too long the federal government has used the state as a weapon against people of faith,” Trump said, later telling the religious leaders gathered for the event that “you’re now in a position to say what you want to say … No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”
But the sweep of the order — unveiled on a National Day of Prayer — was significantly narrower than a February draft, which had alarmed civil libertarians, gay rights and other liberal advocacy groups and prompted threats of lawsuits.Among other things, that version included a controversial provision that could have allowed federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees or single mothers on the basis of faith.
The order released Thursday instead included a blanket statement that “it is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.”
While this is certainly a huge step forward in defending religious liberty, some folks, like the Alliance Defending Freedom, do not feel the order goes far enough, and is simply too vague:“We strongly encourage the president to see his campaign promise through to completion and to ensure that all Americans — no matter where they live or what their occupation is — enjoy the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their convictions without fear of government punishment,” said Gregory S. Baylor, senior counsel for the pro-faith group Alliance Defending Freedom.
It’s true the order might not quite go far enough, but any measure to ease IRS pressure from the backs of ministers trying to restore America to the moral beacon she once was, is a very good thing.
The decline we’ve seen in our society and culture is largely due to the church’s influence being muzzled by the federal government. The only way to reverse course is to truly allow those of faith to have a free and open platform to express their ideas and beliefs, motivating congregations to take a more active role in the political process.
Let’s hope Trump continues to prove himself a friend of religious liberty with the continued implementation of his platform.
[Note: This article was written by Michael Cantrell]