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.”
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 stated that if this amendment is repealed then “this is going to create a revolution among Christian leaders, nonprofit universities, and nonprofits in general” (Blumberg 4).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.
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”?
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.