Trump eases restrictions on religious groups

Long-awaited controversial order removes restrictions on religious groups making donations to political candidates

Trump eases restrictions on religious groups

World Bulletin / News Desk

 President Donald Trump on Thursday eased long-standing restrictions on religious organizations that barred certain political activity.

Marking the National Day of Prayer at the White House, Trump told a gathering of faith leaders, "We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.

"Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God," Trump said. 

The order makes progress on a key campaign pledge for Trump that is likely to galvanize opposition, including from within Trump's camp.

In addition to watering down restrictions on churches and other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates, the order mandates that religious organizations who object to providing contraception under employer-provided insurance plans be given regulatory relief. 

In particular it calls on the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to "consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections".

Trump promised during his bid for the White House to lift restrictions under what is known as the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations, including faith-based groups, from endorsing political candidates. 

Critics have assailed the regulations as an undue interference on free speech.

Trump cannot fully lift the restrictions by presidential fiat, and his action on Thursday is not likely to fully satisfy those seeking the full revocation of the amendment.

Opposition has also started to mount from rights groups who have vowed legal action.

The American Civil Liberties Union said it will see Trump in court, calling his actions "a broadside to our country’s long-standing commitment to the separation of church and state".

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Mayıs 2017, 21:40