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Trump vows to repeal political limits on speech by pastors

February 2, 2017 at 11:55 am 52 News
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President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during the National Prayer Breakfast, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Warning that religious freedom is “under threat,” President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to repeal the Johnson Amendment, an IRS rule barring pastors from endorsing candidates from the pulpit.”

“I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” Trump said during remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, a high-profile event bringing together faith leaders, politicians and dignitaries.

Trump made a similar pledge as a candidate but has not detailed how he plans to scrap the rule or how quickly he will proceed in doing do.

Religious conservatives whose overwhelming support propelled Trump to the White House have been watching closely for him to deliver on promised protections for religious objectors to gay marriage and abortion. Kelly Shackelford, head of First Liberty Institute, a non-profit legal group that specializes in religious freedom cases, said no other presidential candidate was “more outspoken on their commitment to religious freedom” than Trump.

The president made no mention at the prayer breakfast of other steps he may take on those issues, saying only that religious freedom is a “sacred right.” He used his remarks to thank the American people for their prayers in his opening days in office.

He also took a dig at Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new host of “The Apprentice,” the reality TV show Trump previously headlined. Trump said that since Schwarzenegger took over, the show’s rating have been down, and asked the audience to “pray for Arnold.”

While the president’s comments were likely to be warmly received by religious groups, LGBTQ groups are anxious that the president could use his executive powers to curb rights.

“We think it is entirely possible there could be an executive order that creates religious exemptions,” said James Esseks, LGBT project director for the American Civil Liberties Union. He added that the “narrative” that Trump won’t harm the LGBTQ community was “not correct.”

Earlier this week, the Trump administration announced that the president would leave intact a 2014 executive order that protects workers for federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ discrimination, saying in a statement that Trump “continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election.”

During a Monday news briefing, White House spokesman Sean Spicer offered no details on whether Trump could still issue an executive order affecting the LGBTQ community.

“There is a lot of executive orders, a lot of things that the president has talked about and will continue to fulfill, but we have nothing on that front now,” Spicer said.

For now, both sides are speculating on Trump’s plans.

Gay rights supporters argue that he could sign an executive order that would allow religious organizations that receive federal money – like charities or hospitals – to make hiring and other decisions based on religion. They also said he could offer a more wide-ranging order.

Religious conservatives, who saw a series of defeats on same-sex marriage, abortion and other issues under former President Barack Obama, have been bolstered by Trump’s win. In a letter last year to Roman Catholics, Trump pledged, “I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions.”

Trump’s Supreme Court pick this week was also considered a positive sign.

A favorite of conservatives, Neil Gorsuch serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where he sided with Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor when they mounted religious objections to the Obama administration’s requirement that employers provide health insurance that includes contraceptives.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.

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Trump vows to repeal political limits on speech by pastors, 8.9 out of 10 based on 10 ratings

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52 Comments

  1. crustyoldgeezer February 2, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    For those who do not know, or have no idea what it is:

    lbj got tired of Black Preachers/Pastors/ministers speaking from the Pulpit because they were speaking out against the democrat party and screwing up the entire INDOCTRINATION plan to keep Blacks in SUBSERVIENT positions under the thumb of democrats.

    So, they made it clear that any pastor speaking out against democrats they would lose their tax free status.

    Had HONEST Black pastors been speaking out against the destruction of the Black Communities and Culture, this would be an entirely different country today.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser February 2, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Since we have been seeing black ministers use their pulpit to BASH trump supporters this entire election cycle, imo its a GOOD idea to level the playing field by removing the restriction on OTHER pastors from using their pulpit to preach politics from.

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    • AlaskaMan February 3, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      It is (Johnson Amendment) unconstitutional yet few pastors want to challenge IRS. If they did they would win – even with the current split court.

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    • crustyoldgeezer February 3, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      AlaskaMan

      At the time, all of the courts were stacked against the real world and any Black Pastors would have lost at the local levels and there would have been no funding to pursue it further.

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  2. maloneconservative February 2, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Thank goodness President Trump is looking out for Christians. It’s about time someone is! Of course the lgbtq community is upset. They may not be able to be front and center and continue to try to steamroll their liberal and very discriminatory views on the large majority of the population who is not lgbtq. Christians have been discriminated against far too long. It is way past time Christians stand up for what is morally correct. As Christians we need to make a choice–serve God or serve Satan. Going along with the laws of liberal government has equated to serving Satan. I applaud every business owner that has stood up and served God by stating the business would not serve lgbtq due to religious reasons, or had an issue with health insurance mandates about contraceptives, and pray that more businesses do the same. These people will be rewarded in Heaven.

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  3. mattwm1 February 2, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    It was unconstitutional to have this law in the first place. The constitution does not limit free speech based on religion.

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    • darby February 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      I think the leverage was taking away tax exempt status.

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    • AlaskaMan February 6, 2017 at 2:48 am

      Costs in legal battles with IRS is disincentive.

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  4. Lewis Williams February 2, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Remember the Obama campaigns,black churches were pushing his nomination like crazy.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser February 2, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      Along with holding rally’s o get people signed up to vote, driving people to polling stations (after polling station after polling station).. SO THEY ARE already political.. IN FAVOR of demonrats. SO WHY NOT level the playing field by letting conservative churches get in ‘on the act’.

      OH THAT’s right. LIBERALS froth at the mouth and get rabbid if the right does the same thing they do… Cause they feel we shouldn’t be allowed to.

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  5. columba February 2, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    No Democrat ever paid attention to the Johnson amendment anyway — or to the cries of “separation of church and state!” always used against conservatives. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a picture of or read about some Dem giving a campaign speech in a Black church, for example. But now it looks as though Trump will be doing something libs always claim to love, i.e., leveling the playing field. (Of course, they don’t love it when it takes away their special perks, but tra la that’s a different story.)

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  6. southernpatriot February 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Lyndon Johnson was a racist bigot demented Democrat. He worked hard to substitute a government (taxpayer paid!) paycheck each month to blacks for the work of the father of the family and the support of the traditional black church. Since that time, the black family has disintegrated and the traditional place of the black church in black society has disappeared.

    With Trump being a workaholic, not sleeping his first two days in office, and then sleeping only 2 – 4 hours a day since, and with this great energy he is doing more for America in a little under two weeks that Obama did FOR America in 8 years. The Johnson Amendment needs overturning by the House and the Senate and signed by Trump quickly.

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    • Mel February 2, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      Trump’s being a workaholic and never getting any sleep worries me much more than it reassures me, actually. I understand that he is under a lot of pressure, and that he wants to make changes as quickly as possible. But not sleeping and thinking constantly about work is a very unhealthy way to live. He’s 70, not 23. He should be careful.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser February 3, 2017 at 12:48 am

      Very true Mel. Getting only 4 hrs of sleep in 2 days is NOT good for the body…

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  7. 7789361 February 2, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    School teachers led students in the Lord’s Prayer, and The Ten Commandments was the box office champ in 1957. Priests, Pastors and Seminaries were not Politically indifferent. Elected Representatives pass Legislation, and appoint Supreme Court Justices. Today adult school teachers, homosexual, transgender, promiscuous sex and abortion activists normalize unhealthy behavior to malleable school children,by Government Legislation, and Supreme Court decree.

    Today, parents cannot tell their children that perversions taught in school as normal behavior are illegal, as they ought to be. Traumatized innocent, impressionable school children have nowhere to turn.
    Thank you Donald Trump, and Mike Pence for helping us stop these rotten Democrat legislated crimes against our children, and humanity. The child corruptors will use all the venues they control to whip their supporters into a riotous fury.

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    • maloneconservative February 3, 2017 at 7:36 am

      Oh yes parents can and should tell children that what is being taught in school is wrong. Why do you believe they can’t? Discussions happen in my household all the time–and not just with my own kids. Not having these very important discussions, whether at home, or youth groups at church, or in church sermons, would only make this situation worse. People need to stand up for what is right. Jesus never said this life would be easy, and He never promised Christians wouldn’t have to choose between right and wrong. He also told His disciples to “Follow me.” If Christians are to be His followers, they need to do everything they can to right the wrongs. Christians have been standing by for too long–and this is where our country now stands. Our forefathers were Christian and did their best to stand up for what was right–even when it wasn’t popular. Why can’t we do the same today? Why should we be any more afraid than they were? Again, we must do everything we can to stand up for what is right.

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  8. buddyb73 February 2, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    “how he plans to scrap the rule or how quickly he will proceed in doing do.”

    The answer is easy.
    1. Get your guy installed at the Supreme Court
    2. Restore order at the border
    3. Clean house at the IRS
    4. Gut Obama no care
    5. Tell the preachers to PREACH the WORD as written

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    • jimpolichak February 2, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Tell the preachers to PREACH the WORD as written?
      I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19
      Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
      Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
      Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
      Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
      Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
      Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
      Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
      Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me… Matthew 5
      Has anyone ever accused Trump of being Meek?

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    • buddyb73 February 2, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Wow…Jimbo you are really opening yourself up to this one. You are taking the Beatitudes spoken by God himself to justify your prejudice and I may add your ignorance. Meek is referenced once and applies to those who submit to God and His will, who put their pride and ego in submission to the Lord. When Prez Trump lifts the Church, not a building of brick and stone, but Holy Spirit indwelt saints(believers in Christ as God and Savior) he is submitting to God and demonstrates true meekness. Evidently you fail to see that which means your pride is in control.

      That’s just one word in one Beatitude. The other 8 blessings are in Donald Trumps corner as well which he exemplifies extremely well. Read them again carefully. When you are ready we can discuss them again at length if you have any other questions.

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    • Overshadower February 2, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Trump is meek, like Jesus was meek when he drove out the money changers.

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    • Tialin February 2, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Jim, I believe you are wrong in your interpretation.
      There is a place for a wealthy man who does the work of God every bit as much as for a meek man, in the Kingdom of Heaven. “In my Father’s House there are many mansions.” God has always used powerful men and rich men as leaders and liberators when needed. Do you believe King David was a pauper? Certainly King Cyrus the Great was not.

      Jesus often spoke in parables, using examples the people would understand. He did not always speak intending to be taken absolutely literally. Except of course when he overturned the tables of the money changers! That was very literal, but does not mean that his followers should try to win every disagreement by flipping the table!

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    • ltuser
      ltuser February 2, 2017 at 6:55 pm

      JP. Does’t the bible also say FOLLOW the laws of man, just as you would the laws of god?

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    • DrGadget February 3, 2017 at 2:35 am

      “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me…”

      And has Trump not already been persecuted relentlessly by the media for supporting Christian values like Church, nation, and family.

      jim, you ask if Trump is meek. Do you know the meaning of the word? Meek doesn’t mean weak.

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    • columba February 3, 2017 at 3:50 am

      See also Romans 3:23 – “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

      Also 1 John 1:8-9 – “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and there is no truth in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

      Saying someone isn’t perfect doesn’t invalidate everything about him. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t meet all the criteria in the Beatitudes myself, especially the version given in Luke.

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  9. jimpolichak February 2, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Again, we have Trump putting his interests ahead of the rule of law and the Constitution. Our Constitution would not have be adopted without the First Amendment separating Church and State. Our Founding Fathers saw the damage that the Church of England did to that nation and the colonies so they placed their highest concerns in the First Amendment.
    To wit… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    Trump is at war with a free press, declares protests against his administration as “fake news”, and has stopped the White House Petition site from tabulating signatures when the petition calling on him to Immediately release his full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance approached half a million. Why? Because Trump had already declared that only the reporters who are out to get him care about his tax returns.
    How far we will let Trump go in violating the Constitution?
    The Republican Party has to Dump Trump or go the way of the Whigs.

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    • columba February 2, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Jim, I hardly know where to start on all these errors and non sequiturs. First, the point of the religion clause in the 1st Amendment was to keep the government from forcing people to observe a State religion as in Anglican England. It was never meant to keep religious people from expressing their views in public ABOUT the State. It’s the government’s prohibition of political talk in the churches that violates the Constitution. Second, the press is still perfectly free to publish anything they want, short of actionable libel. Complaints about the press are part of free speech, even if they come from the President, and nowhere in the Constitution is there a requirement for press conferences, let alone instructions on how to run them. Third, people who wish to petition the government can do it in any number of ways: mail, email, phone calls, personal delivery of boxes of petitions, etc. The Constitution does NOT require that the government run an online petition site, nor does it require any government official to obey a given set of petitions.

      I could go on, but there’s a length limit to these posts.

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    • Lewis Williams February 2, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech

      tell me why the Johnson Amendment didn’t violate the first amendment it both abridges freedom of speech and prohibits free exercise also don’t say separation of church and state, that statement doesn’t exist in the Constitution

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    • darby February 2, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Lewis, there also is nothing about not paying taxes, and that is the hook. Hillary and the New York times pay taxes.

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    • Overshadower February 2, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Dear jimpolichak,

      With over 1,000 seats lost in the last several elections cycles, the more far left the Democrat Party goes, the quicker it will go the way of the Whigs.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser February 2, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      If anyone needs to open their eyes and read, its YOU jim. CAUSE you keep spouting the leftist liberal nonsense about “separation of church and state”. NO WHERE in the constitution itself, is that phrase ever mentioned.

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    • crustyoldgeezer February 2, 2017 at 7:33 pm

      I do believe you are getting dumber as the evening wears on.

      Do you ever get tired of proving your value to SOCIETY?

      You hit ZERO quite some time back, but yet you continue to dig.

      Public schooling showing up?

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    • DrGadget February 3, 2017 at 2:40 am

      jim, you’re delusional if you think ABCNNBCBS is anything remotely close to a “free press”. It’s an oligarchy of fake news pushing the agenda of 6 very powerful men who own most of the Media outlets. It’s a propaganda machine that spouts ceaseless liberal lies.

      The Founding Fathers would not have fought and died for what now passes as a “free press”.

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    • porthos
      porthos February 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      jim — Who cares about Trump’s tax returns? Only the leftists who want to try to get something on him. Trump has been a public figure with a lot of money for decades. Remember, the IRS doesn’t care who you are, they want their money and will go after it no matter what. Trump’s tax returns are between him and the IRS and are nobody else’s business. You can bet that every return he filed was completely checked when it was sent in. If it wasn’t completely up the the tax laws the IRS would have come down on him with both feet. And if the IRS did come after him it would have been front page news forever. The fact that you never heard of any action against Trump by the IRS shows that his returns have been legal and above board. Worry about your own taxes. The way you sound they may be coming after you next.

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  10. disqus_LpWtdcrMA7 February 2, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    It’s bad enough now when some sit down to eat and/or watch TV and then the conversations erupt from a peaceful inner circle of family and friends into heated disputes over politics. Can you imagine what will happen if a man or woman of the cloth gets up and starts preaching politics in the house of their personal worship? Just look at how dysfunctional the so call sophisticated DC politicians are in their Beltway environment and domed house.

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    • buddyb73 February 2, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      As most secular libs you are just puking out one of your “accepted” alt-facts. You need to bone up a bit on your history so let me help you here a bit.
      James Davidson from Purdue University in his 1998 article “Why Churches Cannot Endorse or Oppose Political Candidates,” states the prohibition on political endorsements or condemnations from the pulpit has nothing to do with the Constitution, the First Amendment, or even Jeffersonian principles of “separation of church and state.”

      Rather, it has to do with Senator Lyndon Johnson’s 1954 amendment to the tax code designed specifically to silence his political enemies who were pasting him for his far-Left politics. The Congressional Record of July 2, 1954 indicates Johnson asked to be recognized, requested his amendment be read into the record and submitted, and it was included in the tax bill on the floor without further discussion. In just a few minutes, nearly 200 years of pastoral freedom was snuffed out.(cont)

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    • buddyb73 February 2, 2017 at 3:35 pm

      (cont)
      Nonprofit groups such as the Facts Forum and the Committee for Constitutional Government were criticizing the liberal Johnson, and this change in the nonprofit portion of the 501(c)3 tax code was a good way to shut them up and churches along with them. Since then progressives(another word for communist)have run with it making up alt-facts along the way about the separation of church and state. So before you start regurgitating secular dogma do a little research.

      Oh BTW the famous phrase “No taxation without representation” was first uttered in a sermon by Jonathan Mayhew, a noted American minister at Old West Church, Boston, Massachusetts. Go google him. He has a few things to say to you.

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    • DrGadget February 3, 2017 at 2:48 am

      The separation of Church and State should be a one-way restriction. The State has no business telling the Church what to do because it doesn’t rule the Church. Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, not Uncle Sam.

      The Church is under no restriction to tell the State what to do. The Church, acting on behalf of Jesus Christ, has unlimited moral authority to make demands of the State.

      Unfortunately the Church we see in America today is a pale clone to what he had in the 1950’s. So many liberal churches endorsed the heathens Obama and Clinton. Neither put any real priority into lifting the mighty name of Jesus. Both showed only contempt for Christians, “clinging bitterly to their guns and Bibles”.

      The official Democrat party platform has removed all reference to serving God. They despise God. I don’t understand how any Christian could possibly be a Democrat. Democrats hate God. Just talk to one.

      “I believe in God, the Bible, and all that BUT…”

      Sure you do.

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  11. jinxie February 2, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Fantastic move, President Trump.

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  12. Schmitt Larry February 2, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Has anyone seen the decline in our nation since we took prayer from school . The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God .
    I sure would hate to hear a minister preach on morality. How about endorsing a candidate because they stood for what Gods word said .
    Sadly I’m afraid a lot of politicians are going to learn there will come a time when they will be judged
    for their lies and corruption.
    Pray for our nation that it will be healed!

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  13. jane.tri-w@rogers.com February 2, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    College professors can preach whatever smack they want to impressionable young people, pastors should have equal freedom of speech.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser February 2, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      Especially since teachers are supposed to EDUCATE not indoctrinate in politics…

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  14. gimmesometruth February 2, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    This has been a ‘Moral Majority’ issue for decades, but politicians never had the [gumption] to attack this blatant assault on free speech till President Trump arrived. It’s also no coincidence that Liberty University has had to legally defend itself multiple times over the years on this issue. The current president of Liberty is the son of the founder of Moral Majority.

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  15. tws500 February 2, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve long regarded the Johnson Amendment as unconstitutional. Freedom of speech should also cover the pulpit.

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    • buddyb73 February 2, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      Freedom of speech does cover all things said from the pulpit but taxation is punitive under the Johnson Amendment as I stated above which need to be extinguished as you have stated well. Ironically the Johnson Amendment is a true violation of 1st amendment of state making a law which interferes with the church which should have never passed the constitutional test. INSTALL GORSUCH NOW!

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  16. Overshadower February 2, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    jane.tri-w@rogers.com writes, “College professors can preach whatever smack they want to impressionable young people, pastors should have equal freedom of speech.”

    I might add, educational institutions, like churches, are classified as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

    It’a about time this ax, wielded by the IRS, was lifted off of the Church. We need the moral voices of our Godly pastors, especially at election time.

    I don’t know a single moral, Godly person who would object, but I know a lot of others who would.

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    • buddyb73 February 2, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      AMEN!

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    • ltuser
      ltuser February 2, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      Even though i am Agnostic, i will give that an Amen brother! as well.

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  17. buddyb73 February 2, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Alt-facts are made up of lies. They are specifically intended to keep their enemies neutralized while they advance a political agenda they know would otherwise be condemned as immoral: killing unborn children, celebrating sex outside of marriage, promoting homosexual behavior, undermining marriage, taking property from some Americans to give to other Americans (otherwise known as stealing), feathering political nests, rewarding political allies and supporters with money and position, and more. Many Christians ignorantly play right into their hands, leaving our government and our freedoms to the wolves…along with our rich heritage of Christian involvement in the public square.

    Since before our nation was a nation, American churches have been at the forefront of politics–and they have done so without being subject to taxation. The power to tax is the power to control.

    As French historian Alexis de Tocqueville noted in his Democracy in America, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.” The Christian roots of liberty have been recognized since the early days of Colonial America, and the seeds of the American Revolution were sewn early on this continent.

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  18. Roscoe Bonifitucci February 2, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Amen. This is long overdue. Let the Truth ring in. Besides, the Dems do NOT play by rules unless they benefit. They have been speaking from pulpits for years. Dems believe that the “Ends justify the Means”. Time to end this Johnson Gag Order.

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  19. Peter Myers February 2, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    AND who else besides the demoRat Liberals shut up Christian Pastors?? The Nazis and Joe Stalin. Liberals are sick evil sinister scum!!

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  20. elderal February 2, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Good for Trump and his obedience to the First Amendment.

    Homosexual acts are an abomination (serious sin.)
    Abortion is murder. Abortion counseling is conspiracy to commit murder.
    Pre-marital sex (fornication) is a sin.
    A sexual affair outside of marriage is sin. (Slick Willie included.)
    Liars are sinners. (Hillary included.)
    Thieves, embezzlers, con-men, etc. are sinners. (Bernie Madoff included.)

    The public proclamation of these Truths is way overdue.

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  21. jimwg February 5, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Most all black churches like the AMEs been advocating for Democratic candidates like forever even the face of the Johnson Amendment so nothing’s going to change there.

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