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Time and time again, we are seeing political officials referencing Bible verses and the general idea that, as the president of the United States tweeted this summer, “IN AMERICA WE DON'T WORSHIP GOVERNMENT - WE WORSHIP GOD!”

Most recently, the new tax reform bill being pushed by President Trump and congressional Republicans aims to make it easier for right-wing Christian ministers to preach politics from the podium.

If passed, the bill would modify a 1954 law known as the Johnson Amendment, according to The New York Times. The six-decade-old tax law prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from participating in political campaigns. Religious institutions that are found to be in violation of this law can have their tax-exempt status revoked.

Under the Republicans’ proposed bill, members of the clergy who endorse candidates from the pulpit would be legally protected.

This cut bill is a blessing for churches that want to engage in political behavior.

Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said, “The House GOP leadership and President Trump want to turn America’s houses of worship into centers of partisan politics. It’s a reckless scheme that may please Trump’s allies in the religious right, but could spark a blowback since the vast majority of Americans, faith leaders and houses of worship are firmly opposed to it. This is a bad idea that should be immediately dropped.”

We agree.

The idea that there can be a dominant religious belief in a country as diverse as the United States without embracing alienation of other religions is entirely ridiculous. If religion is part of all aspects of a state, every member of the state is affected by it. So if you are not part of the dominant religion, it can get pretty unsettling.

While the new tax reform bill wouldn't completely repeal the Johnson Amendment, it would modify crucial aspects of it. Everyone should be allowed to practice their own religion or not practice any religion at all without feeling pressure from political and religious figures.

Also, the Constitution says it best. First part, first sentence, First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ….”

Editorial policy is determined by the student editor, and views expressed in editorials are those of the majority of The Vidette’s Editorial Board. Columns that carry bylines are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Vidette or the University.

 

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