On May 4, Donald Trump took his first official course of action in regard to his promise to dismantle the Johnson Amendment.
“We are giving our churches their voices back,” Trump said, according to NBC News.
The Johnson Amendment banned tax-exempt organizations, like churches, from political speech and activities.
The order instructs the IRS to “not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship or other religious organization” that supports or opposes political candidates, according to The White House.
Dr. Charles C. Haynes, founding director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, does not expect this order to make a difference for the religious community.
“This order doesn’t change anything really,” Haynes said in an interview with Wyoming Public Radio. “The IRS hasn’t been enforcing the endorsement-from-the-pulpit regulation for a long time. They’re not likely to, so just instructing the IRS to do what it’s doing now doesn’t change anything.”
Ryan Anderson, a scholar at The Heritage Foundation who works on religious issues, feels the order did not live up to expectations, according to The Daily Signal.
“In reality, what Trump issued (on May 4) is rather weak,” Anderson said. “All it includes is general language about the importance of religious liberty.”
Despite his disappointment in the order, Anderson said there may be things yet to come, according to The Daily Signal.
“There is still time for Trump to make good on his promise that he would robustly defend religious freedom from pressing threats,” Anderson said. “Today, he didn’t make good on that promise. But he still can and should.”
“This step today starts the process of reversing the devastating trend set by the last administration to punish charities, pastors, family-owned businesses and honest, hard-working people simply for living according to their faith,” Perkins said.