President Donald Trump’s claim that churches and their leaders are not allowed to speak freely due to the Johnson Amendment is another one of those alternative facts that the administration is so fond of [“Mixing politics, charity,” News, Feb. 13].
Religious institutions and church leaders are already free to say anything they want. What the religious institutions are not entitled to, at the same time they engage in politics, are the tax exemptions they receive. The exemptions would then subsidize their political activities at the expense of other taxpayers.
This tax privilege is unavailable to non-religious institutions. In an objective society and judicial system, this privilege would be judged unconstitutional.
As is typical, Trump either has not thought this through or is merely pandering to a myopic and narrow Christian base of supporters. Would they object if a Muslim religious organization accepted donations and used them for a blatantly political campaign aimed to defeat Trump? Would they care if the donors to the Muslim religious institution received tax deductions for their contributions while politicking against the president?
Trump is foolishly trying to open a Pandora’s box.
Editor’s note: The writer is the founder of Long Island Secular Humanists.