Trump flirts with ‘religious liberty’ order that echoes Georgia debate

President Donald Trump flashes a thumbs up during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump flashes a thumbs up during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump said Thursday his White House would “totally destroy” a law that threatens to deny churches their tax-exempt status if they engage in political activity, and hinted at an executive order on “religious liberty” that critics said would discriminate against gays and lesbians.

At a gathering of religious leaders, Trump said his administration would demand that Congress to reverse the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 law that bans churches and some other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

He made no mention of an executive order that’s circulating that would give new legal protections for people and organizations who have moral objections to same-sex marriage. But he hinted his support for such a move.

“My administration will do everything in its power to protect religious liberty in this land,” said Trump. “America must forever remain a tolerant society where all faiths are respected and where all of our citizens can feel safe and secure.”

Georgia is all too familiar with debate over “religious liberty” proposals.

Galvanized in part by the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex weddings, religious conservatives considered the proposal a top priority during last year’s legislative session. House Bill 757 passed both Republican-controlled chambers within hours, with a promise to allow faith-based organizations to deny services to those who violate their “sincerely held religious belief.”

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed the measure weeks later, faced with boycott threats from big-name companies who warned it could sully the state’s business-friendly image and gay rights groups that said the measure amounts to legalized discrimination.

 


 

Since that veto, he and other critics of the proposal have pointed to the uproar in North Carolina over legislation seen by critics as an attack on gay and transgender rights – and the subsequent defeat of the state’s GOP governor – as a cautionary tale. He’s also made clear he would scuttle similar legislation next year, even as state Sen. Josh McKoon and other supporters vow to revive the debate.

A few similar-sounding proposals have emerged this year, but several top Republican leaders have said they want Trump and a Republican-led Congress to lead the charge.

House Speaker David Ralston joined the chorus of skeptics late last year when he said he thought it would be “healthy for the Congress to have a debate, and let’s see what they do.”

And Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle repeatedly said during the run-up to the legislative session that he wants federal lawmakers — and not state ones — to tackle the debate that’s divided the Legislature for three years. It was a shift from his outspoken support for the legislation last year.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson has advocated doing just that, voicing concern about a patchwork of state-by-state policies that could conflict with one another.

“It’s a national issue. It ought to be a seamless policy,” Isakson said in a March interview, adding: “The Constitution guarantees religious liberty under the First Amendment, so anything that passes to carry that out ought to be a federal statute and not a state statute.”

 

Reader Comments 0

36 comments
Nelms Graham
Nelms Graham

Black churches have been in violation of the law for years and years.

Steve Foster
Steve Foster

Churches that wish to be involved in civics should just become 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations like the MoveOn protest organization. Then they can be a PAC that engages in religious activity instead of the other way around.

Khalid Avito
Khalid Avito

People are afraid of Sharia law, but want to create the Christian Taliban. How about our government remain secular, and you get to practice whatever religion you want?

Bill Sengstacken
Bill Sengstacken

Trump is such a religious person, that he spent his time at the National Prayer breakfast talking about The Apprentice and crapping on Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Meehan Murphy
Meehan Murphy

'Religious Liberty' didn't go well in Georgia. Pinewood studios does a lot of business here and expects Georgia to operate under All non-discrimination employment laws and business exchanges.

Nolan Teter
Nolan Teter

He needs to keep his tiny mitts off the Constitution.

Monte Poitevint
Monte Poitevint

Christianity should be protected from the rabid, hate-filled, lunatic Left.

Khalid Avito
Khalid Avito

Yes, we keep changing your coffee cups. I know it hurt you deeply when Starbucks removed their pagan symbols that you somehow associate with Jesus from their holiday cups. I'm sure you had to retreat to your safe place and cover yourself with your confederate flag and promise the South will Rise again... YEEEE HAWWW

Joseph Samuel
Joseph Samuel

Let's replace LGBT with "black" and then watch these hate mongers continue to try and defend this hate bill. It's hate plain and simple. Quit trying to dress it up under Jesus - who by the way says to accept all of his children.

Larry Eldon Fowler
Larry Eldon Fowler

Trump needs to repeal Nathan Deal's veto of the religious liberty bill. Nathan Deal is a greedy heathen who signed the bill to please the Hollywood film industry, Walt Disney inc. Target Inc and McDonalds inc. GO TRUMP !!! Religion needs LIBERTY !!!!

Cory Jobe
Cory Jobe

Religion does not need liberty - it already has liberty. You are confusing liberty with hate, discrimination, fear, and bigotry.

Larry Eldon Fowler
Larry Eldon Fowler

Cory Jobe, get back to your self serving sinful indulgences and leave religion to those who know what it is.

Joseph Samuel
Joseph Samuel

Larry if you are going to support hatred just go ahead and call it hatred and bigotry. Quit hiding behind a religion who's prophet wouldn't even support your hateful point of view.

Larry Eldon Fowler
Larry Eldon Fowler

Bill Sengstacken ,Muslims don't have a religion. Islam is not a religion.

Larry Eldon Fowler
Larry Eldon Fowler

Joseph Samuel, if by hate and bigotry you are referring to the fact that I stand only with Jesus Christ and not with queers and those who try to destroy our country with the glitter of sin. Then yes because I value the afterlife more than I value your feelings.

Kathy Mims
Kathy Mims

So would that be for ALL religions or only yours?

Bill Sengstacken
Bill Sengstacken

Larry Eldon Fowler no it was not. There is a reason why we have separation of church and state. Heck, read the first amendment. That's pretty clear, but if you need more, read the 1947 Supreme Court ruling in Everson vs The Board of Education which makes that crystal clear.

Val Larzelere
Val Larzelere

Bring on the government sanctioned Christian hypocrisy.....

Doug Rogers
Doug Rogers

45 has promised to again violate his oath of office with an executive order to allow discrimination based on religious beliefs. It's time to start impeachment procedures

Madeline Wells Smith
Madeline Wells Smith

Are these "good Christian" businesses going to advertise who they discriminate against, or are consumers supposed to just guess?

Lori Rogers
Lori Rogers

If they were warned and couldn't be humiliated in person it would take away have their fun

Renee Snow
Renee Snow

I want it written in ANY "religious liberty" law, that EACH Company MUST post at least a 5'x5' sign in ALL Entrances, indicating their client preference list.

Steve Morris
Steve Morris

Greg P Bates when hit in war all pray! Join up and serve

Anthony Hearst
Anthony Hearst

Steve Morris I never served in the military but I had four uncles who have done over 15 tours during a span of 3 differently wars. But myself I'm a volunteer firefighter and certified emt. I love this country and everything it stands for and everything it was built on.

Greg P Bates
Greg P Bates

Steve Morris are you implying that I'm not a Christian? I'm not sure I understand.


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