Churches and Political Activism (Micah Goodwin, Feb 9th-14th Discussion)

Article: Trump Vows To ‘Destroy’ The Law That Bans Churches From Endorsing Candidates (Antonia Blumberg Associate Religion Editor, The Huffington Post)

“The president wants to help churches become the new super PACs.”

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-johnson-amendment_us_5893984de4b0c1284f24ece4?section=us_religion

Summary:

Major controversy has always been present between the division of church and state. The current president of the United States, Donald Trump is aiming to abolish the “Johnson Amendment”. This amendment was enacted in 1954 and its sole purpose is to prevent churches and religious organizations from being involved in political activities and endorsement of candidates (Blumberg 2). In addition, this “50-year-old tax law that prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from participating in political campaigns” (Blumberg 1). Trump voiced his opinion at a prayer breakfast about the amendment; he felt that this amendment restricts individuals from expressing their own religious beliefs (Blumberg 2). Trump does not have the power to repeal this amendment; Congress has the final say over this matter (Blumberg 3).

Generally Republicans feel that politics should be implemented in churches more than Democrats do, “nearly 60 percent of Republicans believe churches should express their political views, compared with 42 percent of Democrats” (Blumberg 5). Individuals who are in agreement with repealing this amendment desire to still promote religious structure and order. Jerry Falwell Jr. stated that if this amendment is repealed then “this is going to create a revolution among Christian leaders, nonprofit universities, and nonprofits in general” (Blumberg 4). People who are in disagreement for the repeal of the amendment believe that this will infringe on the First Amendment (Blumberg 5).

Theological Issue: Can politics affect religious beliefs and faith? What grounds are religion and religious beliefs based on?

Relation to Class:
In Vatican II, the document Dei Verbum talks about the role of bishops (religious leaders). Bishops responsibility is to teach Christians about God using biblical references and context. “It is the duty of bishops, “who have the apostolic ministry of teaching,” duly to instruct the faithful entrusted to the” (Dei Verbum 98). Bishops are held accountable for the interpretation of the word of God (Dei Verbum 98). Due to the fact that Bishops have a specific job they should avoid from deviating from this by adding political factors. Including politics in church can alter individual perception of what churches are teaching. People may begin to lose focus on the sole purpose of church, which is God.

Also Dei Verbum discusses the tradition of the church. Tradition and scripture work hand and hand together. In addition, believing in God requires an individual to practice a spiritual lifestyle. In order to practice a spiritual lifestyle God should be the primary focus (Dei Verbum 90).

In the Gospel of Matthew, the Pharisees talk with God pertaining to if they should pay taxes to Caesar (Mt. 22:15-22). God responds by letting them know that they should give back the “Roman Coin” to Caesar Mt. 22:15-22)(. This relates to politics being implemented in the church because God clearly shows that he doesn’t need anything thing additional. God solely wants for Christians to live an appropriate lifestyle and maintain reading the bible on a daily basis.

FOR DISCUSSION:

Can the incorporation of politics in religion have a major impact on the members of the church? Can religious leader’s sole purpose be altered if politics are discussed in church? Will Christians began to lose focus about their faith and commitment with God? What negative outcomes can result in the repealing of the “Johnson Amendment”?

Citations:
Benedict, James Carroll, and Edward P. Hahnenberg. Vatican II: the essential       texts. New York: Image, 2012. Print.
The New American Bible: translated from the original languages with critical use of all the ancient sources: with the Revised book of Psalms and the Revised New Testament. IA Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, 1991. Print.

12 thoughts on “Churches and Political Activism (Micah Goodwin, Feb 9th-14th Discussion)”

  1. Micah,
    I had no idea about the “Johnson Amendment”, and also had no idea that Trump is planning to repeal it. I find it interesting, and I wonder what are Trump’s motives behind doing that. I would hope nothing negative would come out of it, because religious organizations should want to spread and promote positivity. But then again, people always have their own agendas, and you can never depend on religious organizations/leaders or anyone for that matter to actually use their power for good. It most likely will just help get things approved or done in their favor.

    1. I couldn’t agree more with what you said. I too did not know about the Johnson Amendment nor did I not know that Trump wants to repeal it.
      All I’m thinking is: whatever happened to separation church and power? Did that just suddenly go away? Does it not matter anymore?

  2. I believe that religion is very closely tied to politics. All the former (and current) president were/are Christian in their beliefs. As a country founded with God in mind, people choose presidents partly based on their religion. Having churches support a candidate would just be another way to push voters to vote a certain way. I understand why government wants to prevent churches from funding a candidate because only huge churches have that sort of money to significantly help a candidate. It’s understandable to want to keep church and state separate, but what about celebrities that have tremendous sway on popular opinion. Why can you silence a church, but not a celebrity.

    1. Becky,
      I understand your viewpoint, but I believe celebrities and politicians are different. Celebrities have a huge following and yes they can sway the opinions of people. But, politicians can actually make specific changes that impact our lives, regardless of the fact if we agree with them or not. A celebrity would do something to give publicity on a certain view they have, that may have todo with their faith. A politician might do something that has todo with their faith, but they may do it for their own personal gain or for a personal gain for the churches.

  3. This astounds me. I knew there was a law in place to separate church and state but I didn’t know its name. Trump repealing this amendment could result in a lot of harm. Politics and religion need to stay separated because politicians will abuse the church’s influence if given the choice. I see this from the realist perspective and mixing the church and state could cause the church to lose sight of themselves and their connection with God due to the politician’s influence. Trump has no right to do this and it amazes me that people are going along with this.

  4. When JFK was voted president people were questioning whether he would follow what the pope said or if he would listen to the American people. (He was Catholic) This is an issue because the president should serve the people and not be influenced by a religious power. I think the separation of church and state is important in running this country in the sense of how much it impacts their decision.

  5. This article was very interesting to me because I didn’t know there was a law(in a way) that was put in place to separate politics and church. Coming from another country, we do not have an amendment such as “Johnson Amendment” and I think that might be the reason why the country is so corrupted in the politics and religious aspect.

  6. I do not believe Trump should involve religion with politics. No, I’m not saying he shouldn’t have a faith, but publicly putting them together is not okay. I was unaware of the Johnson Amendment, and it kind of makes me upset. I don’t think it’s any of his business. I just think he is bored and has nothing to do.

  7. I believe that politics and religion do influence one another in great ways but I also strongly believe that you can separate the two as well. The relationship between politic and religion is not the greatest and usually causes more harm than good at the end of the day. As well as others, I was not aware of the Johnson Amendment and I do not see a valid reason for the president to want to abolish it. Getting rid of this amendment will cause more tremendous issues between politics and religion.

  8. Politics and religion are two topics that are always very delicate to discuss. As a whole, people should be allowed to express how they feel on the other hand the religious factor may not allow them. For example it is fraud upon to even consider abortion in my religion, yet at the same time I marched for Woman’s Rights on Washington because I am a female and there are many factors that can be taken in to consideration. I personally fight for woman rights because females have always been one step below never a step ahead, on the other hand I personally would not participate in this action because I am still a catholic. At the end of the day separation of church and state has worked over the years.

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