Wisconsin-based atheist group sues Trump over church order

Essentially, the new order directs the Internal Revenue Service to ease its already nearly nonexistent enforcement of the 1954 "Johnson Amendment", named for President Lyndon Johnson, which prohibits churches and other nonprofits, like the one that once came after LBJ, from endorsing or funding a candidate.

"Congress needs to codify particularly the repeal of the Johnson Amendment", he states.

Trump spoke to religious leaders at the Rose Garden, where he also announced he'll visit Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Vatican - including a meeting with Pope Francis - on his first foreign trip.

"I've got colleagues up here in the House of Representatives that believe there ought to be closer integration of church and state and when I say church, I mean LDS church here in the state of Utah", he told Fox 13's Ben Winslow.

"This morning's empty and symbolic action on the president's part most likely betrays the hidden hand of the president's uber-liberal daughter, Ivanka, who likely leaked the February draft to a liberal rag in order to stir up enough intense outrage from the LGBT community to strangle this baby in the cradle", Fischer said.

Trump had vowed on the campaign trail to protect religious liberties. "That's what was historic about today".

"Faith is deeply embedded into the history of our country, the spirit of our founding and the soul of our nation", Trump said at the White House during National Day of Prayer event with religious leaders and White House staff. "We are giving our churches their voices back", he said. But he has concerns about mixing politics and religion. The Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson characterized the order as "woefully inadequate", while Princeton professor Robert George said it amounted to a victory for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, senior administration officials with socially liberal views.

The order was widely praised by religious organizations that either felt hemmed in by the law or openly violated it, but others denounced it as putting women's health in jeopardy or weakening the USA tradition of separating church and state.

Civil-rights groups opposed the executive order, which weakens regulations that prevent churches from engaging in political activity.

Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump's evangelical advisory board who was at the signing ceremony, said that Christian conservatives are being "unrealistic" for thinking that Trump can solve all religious liberty issues in one executive order. As soon as details of the order are sorted out, his church plans to endorse a candidate for mayor. He said it would protect Americans' religious freedom from government interference. A 2016 Pew study found that while almost two-thirds of worshippers have heard clergy deliver a sermon about a social or political issue, only 14 percent have heard clergy endorse or oppose a candidate.

The lawyer praised Trump's decision to issue the order, adding, "I think it's long overdue".

"They love to come out against Republicans", she said of the organization. But his executive order can't change existing law.

It was filled with religious exemptions and language that could give millions of Americans "a licence to discriminate" against parents that were unwed, some rights advocates, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

  • Bernice Underwood