Sunday, March 26, 2017

The next assault on the First Amendment

This blog entry was delayed because I sent it to Newsday as a letter to the editor which they eventually published in an edited form.

President Trump’s claim made on February 2, 2017, at a prayer service, that that churches and their leaders are not allowed to speak freely due to the “Johnson Amendment” is another one of those “alternative facts” that the current administration is so fond of.  Religious institutions and church leaders are, of course, already free to say anything they want.  What the religious institutions are NOT entitled to at the same time they engage in politics are to receive the tax exemptions which would then subsidize their political activities at the expense of other taxpayers.  This tax privilege would not be available to non-religious institutions.  In an objective society and judicial system, this privilege would be judged unconstitutional.

As is typical, President Trump either has not thought this through or is merely pandering to a myopic and narrow Christian base of supporters.  Would they object if a Muslim religious organization accepted donations and used them for a blatantly political campaign aimed to defeat Donald Trump?  Would they care if the donors to the Muslim religious institution received tax deductions for their contributions and the Muslim religious institutions remained tax exempt while politicking successfully against the President?  This is the Pandora’s Box that President Trump is foolishly trying to open.

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