The Johnson Amendment is a Fig Leaf Hiding President Trump’s Broken Promises to Christians

Donald Trump understands how easily distracted self-identified evangelicals in America are. They are willing to turn a blind eye to sin if someone promises to advance their agenda. Throw them a few bones and they will seal clap. Bluster and bully in their name and they will ignore the betrayals and broken promises. In short, self-identified evangelicals in America really are just like everyone else. There is a reason self-identified evangelicals have a divorce rate similar to everyone else. There is a reason self-identified evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. And there is a reason I use the term “self-identified.”

The reality is that self-identified evangelicals and actual evangelicals are not the same. Among evangelicals who regularly attend church, their divorce rate is lower, their birth rate is higher, the family is more stable, and they were least likely to support Donald Trump in the primaries. Many of them reluctantly supported him in the general election. Importantly, Donald Trump made no distinctions among the self-identified and the actual. Instead, he made them all several promises.

One of those promises was to put up federal protections for Christians in America who are increasingly intentionally targeted for harassment by gay rights activists. There are few actual practicing Christians in America who believe Christians should refuse to provide goods and services to gays. But the overwhelming majority of orthodox, Bible believing Christians oppose providing goods and services to any wedding that violates God’s decrees, including same sex weddings.

Gay rights activists intend to make us care and force Christians to give up their values or go out of business. They were aided and abetted by Barack Obama, who signed federal orders discriminating against any Christian organization that sought to assist the federal government in helping the poor. Any Christian group that maintained an actual Biblical world view was prohibited from helping.

Donald Trump promised to repeal that order. Twice now, however, he has refused to do so. Instead, he wants to repeal the Johnson Amendment. That amendment, authored by Lyndon Johnson, prohibits non-profits from active engagement in partisan politics. Non-profits may educate, but they may not participate as partisan players.

This rule has long been worked around. In the black community, where the church plays a more interwoven community role than in the white community, the Johnson amendment is often less adhered to as politicians come in to address congregants. Increasingly, in largely white churches, the same happens. The IRS has started cracking down.

Donald Trump wants to get rid of the Johnson amendment, but the logical fall out of that will eventually be an end to the charitable deduction for churches and ultimately to churches paying taxes. There are few practicing Christian evangelicals in America who want their ministers engaging in politics from the pulpit. Those who do usually have one foot in hell fire already.

The eradication of the Johnson amendment may placate the minstrels, charlatans, and TV conmen clerics who have surrounded and embraced Donald Trump, but it will do nothing to help actual practicing Christians.

The eradication of the Johnson Amendment would not have helped Baronelle Stutzman save her florist shop. It would not have helped Sweet Cakes by Melissa keep its doors open. It would not have helped the Christians in America routinely targeted and harassed by gay rights activists. But there is other legislation and other executive orders that would.

Donald Trump has just chosen not to push forward any of those. Instead, he keeps making promises and breaking them. Now he offers up the Johnson amendment, which is nothing more than a fig leaf.

Neil Gorsuch is not enough. President Trump promised so much more and has not only not delivered, but has expressly broken a number of promises already.

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Erick Erickson

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