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Sat May 6, 2017, 03:24 PM

Trump told clergy, Say what you want to say. Many contend they were already doing that.

The president has been a vocal opponent of the Johnson Amendment, the provision in the tax code that bans churches and other houses of worship from campaigning for political candidates if they want to keep their tax-exempt status. His latest executive order was meant to undermine that tax law so that clergy can endorse candidates from the pulpit without fear of repercussions.

But the vast majority of clergy, even among the evangelical Christians whose votes Trump relied on, had never objected to the Johnson Amendment. In February, 89 percent of evangelical leaders said in a National Association of Evangelicals poll that they do not think pastors should endorse politicians from the pulpit.

And many interviewed after the Trumpís announcement are perplexed by the executive order, saying it wonít make any difference in whether they endorse political candidates in their sermons or not."Iím not going to speak about candidates whether Iím allowed legally to or not. I just donít think thatís my job,Ē said David Renwick, the senior pastor at the National Presbyterian Church in Northwest Washington.

Parishioners tend to agree: In a September poll, 19 percent told Lifeway Research that they would approve of clergy making endorsements from the pulpit, and 79 percent said they would find it inappropriate.Of course, some clergy have already been making endorsements, long before Trump directed the IRS on Thursday not to pursue penalties for pulpit speech. The practice is uncommon, though: Pew Research found in August that 3 in 10 poll participants who attend black Protestant churches had heard their pastors speak for or against a candidate, and 1 out of 10 churchgoers at white Protestant churches and Catholic churches said they heard endorsements.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/05/06/trump-told-clergy-say-what-you-want-to-say-many-contend-they-were-already-doing-that/?utm_term=.ea624f9a1e23

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