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Capitol Correspondence - 05.15.17

President Signs Order Relaxing Political Activity Rules

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On May 4, President Trump signed an executive order that would ease restrictions on political activity by churches, charities, and other 501(c)(3) organizations. Though the order cannot change the “Johnson Amendment“, the law that prevents religious organizations and charities from directly or indirectly participating in candidates’ political campaigns, it does direct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” when determining whether religious leaders or other groups have endorsed or opposed political candidates. The order pledges to “protect and vigorously promote religious liberty”, but does not include language from an earlier leaked draft that would have permitted individuals and businesses to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation.