Trump: Religious Leaders Can Now Say What's in Their Hearts
He signs Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 4, 2017 11:21 AM CDT
President Donald Trump signs an executive order aimed at easing an IRS rule limiting political activity for churches, Thursday, May 4, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that will weaken enforcement of a rarely employed IRS rule that says religious organizations and other nonprofits that endorse political candidates risk losing their tax-exempt status. Trump signed the order at a White House ceremony marking the National Day of Prayer, reports the AP. USA Today reports only Congress has the authority to eliminate the Johnson Amendment, which applies to churches and nonprofits, so Trump's order asks the IRS to use "maximum enforcement discretion" over the regulation.

"You're now in a position where you can say what you want to say, and I know you"ll only say good and you’ll say what's in your heart," Trump said to those religious leaders present in the Rose Garden, per Politico. The Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty also promises "regulatory relief" for groups with religious objections to the preventive services requirement in the Affordable Care Act. Those requirements include covering birth control and the move could apply to religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, which have moral objections to paying for contraception. The executive order has disappointed some of Trump's supporters who were hoping for a more sweeping measure.

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