By Amanda Tyler / Special to Religion News Service

This is an abbreviated version of the story. For the full story, click here.

America’s charities, including houses of worship, receive special tax treatment, given their unique and historical role in our society to serve the public interest.

In return for that most-favored tax status, all 501(c)(3) organizations must follow certain rules. Among them, nonprofits are prohibited from engaging in partisan campaigns. President Trump’s pledge to “get rid of and totally destroy” this rule attacks the integrity of both our charitable groups and campaign finance system, with potential for great harm for houses of worship.

Changing the law is not about protecting free speech. …

It is not yet clear how President Trump plans to eviscerate this protection in the law. Presumably, he will need to rely on Congress. One bill recently introduced would not “totally destroy” the statute but change it in troubling ways, permitting charitable organizations to campaign in the ordinary course of activities and in furtherance of their purpose if incurring minimal costs. For those concerned with government regulation, these standards should raise red flags — they invite IRS scrutiny to determine whether the speech is in line with a group’s purpose and to examine financial accounts to calculate a percentage of funds spent on politics. …

Click here to read the article on the RNS website.