For Immediate Release
May 4, 2017
Media contact: Cherilyn Crowe / ccrowe@BJConline.org / Cell: 202-670-5877 


Tyler: Order aligns with groups looking to solidify political power; current law protects 501(c)(3)s from candidate pressure

WASHINGTON – Today, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty responded to the Executive Order signed by President Donald J. Trump titled “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.”  

The following statement is from Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty:  

“This order appears to be largely a symbolic act, voicing concern for religious liberty but offering nothing to advance it. Worse, it is further evidence that President Trump wants churches to be vehicles for political campaigns.

Americans think changing the tax law to encourage churches to endorse and oppose political candidates with tax-deductible contributions is a terrible idea. But some politicians and a few interest groups looking to solidify their political power continue to push it to further their agenda.

The vast majority of congregants and clergy from all religious groups oppose candidate endorsements in their houses of worship. Pastors will continue to speak truth to power and preach on moral issues, no matter how controversial, and they don’t need a change in the tax law to do it. But getting rid of the protection in the law that insulates 501(c)(3) organizations from candidates pressing for endorsements would destroy our congregations and charities from within over disagreements on partisan campaigns.”

Tyler submitted testimony this morning to a House subcommittee hearing on examining a church’s right to free speech. It is available at this link.

In April, 99 faith groups sent a letter to Congress asking to keep the current law in place. A copy of the letter is here and more information is online at BJConline.org/CommunityNotCandidates

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Based in Washington, D.C., the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is an 81-year-old religiously based organization working to defend religious freedom for all people and protect the institutional separation of church and state in the historic Baptist tradition.

Learn more at BJConline.org.