Giuseppe Sandro Mela.
«Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government.»
«All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech»
«The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.»
* * * * * * * *
«President Trump signed an executive order Thursday to make it easier for churches to participate in politics and to protect faith-based groups from being forced to pay for abortion services under Obamacare, proclaiming, “We are giving our churches their voices back.”»
«At a National Day of Prayer ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump signed the order directing the IRS not to “unfairly target” the tax-exempt status of churches and other religious organizations who engage in political speech»
«“The federal government will never ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs,” Mr. Trump said.
While the action was long awaited on the right, some conservatives said they’re disappointed that it doesn’t go far enough.»
«The action will direct the IRS to immediately “exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden” of the so-called Johnson Amendment, a tax provision dating from 1954»
«With this executive order, we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty»
«No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors …. »
«We must never infringe on the noble tradition of change from the church, and progress from the pew»
«This is just the first bite at the apple, not the last»
«Americans cannot rely on the discretion of IRS agents, some of whom have abused that discretion for years to silence pastors and intrude into America’s pulpits, …. Nor does the outline do anything to prevent a future, hostile administration from wielding its power to penalize any church who dares exercise its constitutionally protected freedoms in a manner that displeases those in authority. A legislative problem like the Johnson Amendment demands a legislative solution»
«For too long the federal government has used the state as a weapon against people of faith»
«Exit polls in November showed Trump defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton 80 percent to 16 percent among white evangelical Christians»
* * * * * * *
Cosa fosse il Johnson Amendment è stato già esposto in dettaglio.
Questo Executive Order tratta molti argomenti, tra i quali ne enucleiamo alcuni., per somma sintesi.
– «shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate». Nessuna persona potrà più essere portata in giudizio, incarcerata o licenziata perché obiettore di coscienza. Ciò vale per esempio per quanti si rifiutassero di eseguire aborti oppure favorire nuzialità alternative. È la fine di una feroce persecuzione durata fin troppo tempo tra l’omertoso silenzio generale.
– «respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech». I cristiani potranno parlare liberamente esprimendo in modo compiuto il proprio pensiero, senza il terrore di essere portati in giudizi e condannati a severe pene detentive.
– È abolito quel comma del Johnson Amendment «However, certain voter education activities as well as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, if conducted in a non-partisan manner, are not prohibited» che permetteva alle sole ong liberals democratiche, le uniche considerate “non-partisan” dai giudici, di essere le uniche voci in tutta l’America, essendo tutti gli altri costretti al silenzio.
È l’inizio della fine della dittatura del pensiero unico liberal democratico.
→ The White House. 2017-05-04. Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty
– – – – – – –
PROMOTING FREE SPEECH AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.
Sec. 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.
Sec. 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.
Sec. 4. Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.
Sec. 5. Severability. If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any individual or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of its other provisions to any other individuals or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
May 4, 2017.
→ The Washington Times. 2017-05-04. Trump gives churches ‘their voices back’ with approval take part in partisan politics.
President Trump signed an executive order Thursday to make it easier for churches to participate in politics and to protect faith-based groups from being forced to pay for abortion services under Obamacare, proclaiming, “We are giving our churches their voices back.”
At a National Day of Prayer ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump signed the order directing the IRS not to “unfairly target” the tax-exempt status of churches and other religious organizations who engage in political speech.
“The federal government will never ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs,” Mr. Trump said.
While the action was long awaited on the right, some conservatives said they’re disappointed that it doesn’t go far enough.
The president’s order is aimed at easing an IRS provision that prohibits churches from directly opposing or endorsing political candidates. The action will direct the IRS to immediately “exercise maximum enforcement discretion to alleviate the burden” of the so-called Johnson Amendment, a tax provision dating from 1954.
The directive also will allow non-profit organizations to deny certain health coverage for religious reasons. It’s aimed at protecting Christian groups like Little Sisters of the Poor, who have waged a court battle against the government mandate under Obamacare, from being forced to pay for abortion services.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said his agency will use the order to “re-examine” Obamacare’s mandate on contraceptive services.
“We will be taking action in short order to follow the president’s instruction to safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees,” Mr. Price said.
As Mr. Trump spoke about the Little Sisters’ case, he even invited some of the nuns in the audience to join him on the stage.
“Your long ordeal will soon be over,” the president told the nuns.
When one of the sisters told Mr. Trump the court case has been going on for five years, the president asked her, “You had good lawyers?”
“Where are your lawyers?” the president asked, scanning the audience. “Stand up, c’mon, stand up. Do you mind if I use your lawyers? Good job.”
He added, “With this executive order, we are ending the attacks on your religious liberty.”
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans to cover contraceptives at no cost to patients. After the Supreme Court ruled that the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government created an accommodation for closely held, for-profit businesses that have a religious objection, which involves filling out a form to arrange for a third party to provide coverage instead.
But the Little Sisters and several other religious groups say the accommodation still forces them to be complicit in providing people with contraception against their religious beliefs.
The president devoted most of his comments to ending the restrictions of the Johnson Amendment, saying he was halting “a financial threat against the faith community.”
“No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors,” the president said to thunderous applause from the audience of religious and conservative leaders, including Dr. Franklin Graham. “In America, we do not fear people speaking freely from the pulpit. We embrace it.”
Mr. Trump noted that the nation “has a rich tradition of social change beginning in our pews and in our pulpits.”
“Perhaps there is no greater example than the historic role of the African-American church as the agent for social progress, spurring our nation to greater justice and equality,” he said. “We must never infringe on the noble tradition of change from the church, and progress from the pew.”
By administratively removing the Johnson Amendment, Faith & Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed said, the president’s order “removes a sword of Damocles that has hung over the faith community for decades.”
He said ending the Obamacare mandates that violate the religious faith of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based nonprofits “lifts a cloud of fear over people of faith and ensures they will no longer be subjected to litigation, harassment and persecution simply for expressing their religious beliefs.”
“This is just the first bite at the apple, not the last,” Mr. Reed said. We still support the full statutory repeal of the Johnson Amendment and Obamacare mandates, but this order is a giant step in the right direction in protecting the First Amendment rights of Christians and other Americans of conscience and faith.”
Some conservatives are expressing disappointment that the president’s action doesn’t go far enough to guarantee religious liberty protections.
Senior Counsel Gregory Baylor, senior counsel of the conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the executive order leaves Mr. Trump’s campaign promises “unfulfilled.” He argued that directing the IRS to use its discretion isn’t strong enough.
“Americans cannot rely on the discretion of IRS agents, some of whom have abused that discretion for years to silence pastors and intrude into America’s pulpits,” he said. “Nor does the outline do anything to prevent a future, hostile administration from wielding its power to penalize any church who dares exercise its constitutionally protected freedoms in a manner that displeases those in authority. A legislative problem like the Johnson Amendment demands a legislative solution.”
Mr. Baylor also said the order offers “no specific relief” to families such as the Donald and Ellen Vander Boon, owners of a meatpacking company in Michigan, who face action by the Department of Agriculture that could close their business. The government has threatened them with the loss of inspections over their placement of literature in an employee lunch room that expressed their opposition to same-sex marriage based on religious grounds.
He said the president’s pledge of regulatory relief on Obamacare is “disappointingly vague.”
And a government watchdog group, Public Citizen, warned that Mr. Trump’s action could lead to more “unaccountable” money influencing elections.
“This executive order may go down in history as the ‘Citizens United’ of church/state separation in the context of political spending,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “If carried out, the executive order would enable evangelical, social conservative and other churches to operate as dark money funnels — with even less disclosure and reporting required for social welfare organizations and trade associations.”
The event in the Rose Garden began with a guitar performance by Steven Curtis Chapman, a Christian music singer and social activist, who thanked Mr. Trump and sang two songs, including an acoustic version of The Lord’s Prayer.
→ Boston Globe. 2017-05-04. Trump signs executive order to weaken IRS rule against church political activity
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday said he would direct the Internal Revenue Service to relax enforcement of rules barring tax-exempt churches from participating in politics as part of a much-anticipated executive order on religious liberties.
The order – which Trump formally unveiled in a Rose Garden ceremony with Christian leaders – also offers unspecified ‘‘regulatory relief’’ for religious objectors to an Obama administration mandate, already scaled back by the courts, that required contraception services as part of health plans, the officials said.
‘‘For too long the federal government has used the state as a weapon against people of faith,’’ Trump said, later telling the religious leaders gathered for the event that ‘‘you’re now in a position to say what you want to say . . . No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.’’
But the sweep of the order – unveiled on a National Day of Prayer – was significantly narrower than a February draft, which had alarmed civil libertarians, gay rights and other liberal advocacy groups and prompted threats of lawsuits.
Among other things, that version included a controversial provision that could have allowed federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees or single mothers on the basis of faith.
The order released Thursday instead included a blanket statement that ‘‘it is the policy of the administration to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.’’
While Trump’s action was applauded by many in the Rose Garden, some religious groups criticized him for what they characterized as a vague directive that didn’t live up to his campaign rhetoric.
‘‘We strongly encourage the president to see his campaign promise through to completion and to ensure that all Americans – no matter where they live or what their occupation is – enjoy the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their convictions without fear of government punishment,’’ said Gregory Baylor, senior counsel for the pro-fatith group Alliance Defending Freedom
As a candidate and shortly after taking office, Trump declared he would ‘‘totally destroy’’ what’s known as the Johnson Amendment, a six-decade-old ban on churches and other tax-exempt organizations supporting political candidates.
The provision is written in the tax code and would require an act of Congress to repeal fully.
The order instead directs the Internal Revenue Service to ‘‘exercise maximum enforcement discretion of the prohibition.’’ Such a direction could be subject to legal challenge and would not necessarily extend beyond a Trump presidency.
‘‘President Trump’s executive order removes a sword of Damocles that has hung over the faith community for decades by administratively repealing the Johnson Amendment and restoring the right to political speech by pastors, churches and ministries,’’ Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and a leading advocate of repealing the prohibition, said in a statement.
Violations of the Johnson Amendment are infrequently pursued by the IRS, but evangelicals claim it has been used selectively against them, preventing Christian leaders from speaking freely in church.
The amendment is named for Lyndon B. Johnson, who introduced it in the Senate in 1954, nine years before he became president.
The provision applies to all tax-exempt organizations, including many colleges and foundations.
Under current law, churches are free to promote political candidates but must forgo such activity to obtain tax-exempt status.
The repeal of the Johnson Amendment is also being written into the tax legislation being developed in the House of Representatives, according to congressional aides.
But both the provision and the broader legislation face substantial hurdles.
Trump’s religious liberties order was aimed at a key part of his base: Exit polls in November showed Trump defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton 80 percent to 16 percent among white evangelical Christians.
Conservative Christian churches have become increasingly concerned that the federal government could come after their tax-exempt status if they profess opposition to gay rights and same-sex marriage. But some pastors have endorsed the Johnson amendment, arguing it protects what is supposed to be a spiritual haven from the pernicious intrusion of politics.
Before the release of the order, critics were particularly concerned about a provision in the February draft providing leeway to federal contractors to discriminate in the name of religious freedom.
That provision was not included in Thursday’s order.
A provision that was included in the order is a response to the issue raised in the prominent Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases before the Supreme Court – whether employers must comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurance cover contraception for women.
In the Hobby Lobby case, the court said some employers can opt out of paying for their employees’ birth control coverage for religious reasons. Afterward, the Obama administration announced new rules to allow for the insurance company to pay for the contraception instead.
The order calls for ‘‘regulatory relief’’ for those parties but does not spell out what that might entail. The White House official who briefed the media on Wednesday night did not elaborate.