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Trump vows to repeal law barring churches from politics

Trump vows to repeal law barring churches from politics

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump vowed on Thursday to ‘totally destroy’ a law that forbids churches from engaging in political activities.

“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,” he said at the annual national prayer breakfast in Washington. “I will do that, remember.”

The Johnson Amendment prohibits all non-profit organisations from endorsing or opposing political candidates or making political speeches.

Most churches and religious groups in the United States register themselves as tax free setups. The amendment, enacted in 1954, is named after Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, who proposed the bill. Conservative lawmakers want it repealed, arguing that it restricts the free speech rights of churches and other religious groups.

The New York Times, while commenting on President Trump’s speech, described the Johnson Amendment as “one of the brightest lines in the legal separation between religion and politics”. Undoing the amendment would threaten the separation of church and state, a corner stone of Western democracy, the newspaper concluded.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2017

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