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Morality in America

Morality in America

When studying the founding of the United States, you can’t help but encounter the faith of the nation’s forefathers. Time and again they recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America. You will find Him repeatedly mentioned in their words and documents. And you will find Him having an active, vibrant role in the country’s early history.

Today, God continues His work in America – but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass. Every week, “Morality in America” will address the myriad of moral concerns facing the United States and undermining its Godly heritage.  After you read, remember to intercede in prayer for America – that this nation will return to the Christian standards that once defined it.

Free Speech and Religious Liberty

Morality in America

President Trump champions political voice for faith leaders

By Candy Arrington

On the National Day of Prayer, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty." The order gives religious organizations greater freedom to speak out about political issues.

Ostensibly, it also takes the bite out of the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 addition to the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from "directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office." Although the Johnson Amendment threatens the loss of tax-exempt status for religious and other non-profit organizations that are non-compliant, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rarely enforces it.

With this executive order, President Trump follows through with a campaign promise to make it his first priority to preserve and protect religious liberty. As he signed the executive order, the president said, "No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith," pledging his administration will be "leading by example" on religious liberty in the United States.

What the executive order does:

What the executive order does not do:

Misperception about the separation of church and state?

Contrary to what most Americans believe, the phrase "separation of church and state" is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Instead, this phrase appears in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote explaining his view of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof." Yet, over the years, the phrase "separation of church and state" has been bandied around as the reason religious leaders and organization should have no voice in the political arena.

However, the mixing of religion and politics remains a wobbly tightrope walk. Even if religious leaders feel the freedom to speak about politics as a result of the "Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty" executive order, many have concerns that engaging in political pronouncements or endorsements will take away from the primary goal of conveying the message of the gospel and prove divisive.

Overall, President Trump's executive order provides encouragement that religious freedom will remain a priority for his administration, promotes speaking about faith views on various topics without fear of retribution, and signals renewed recognition of the faith heritage on which this country was established.

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame." (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Pray for:

Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles on tough topics for a wide variety of publications and enjoys teaching and speaking on these topics.

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