In my first article titled Welfare Churches, I used the allegory of the famous Casey in the epic poem Casey at the bat to show that Pres. Trump disappointed many of the pastors and church congregations of America when he struck out as he signed the order giving them, so called, relief from the Johnson Law this past week in the Rose Garden at the White House, surrounded by a string band and the Little Sisters of the Poor. Without repeating I gave several reasons why this is not a permanent fix without Congress eliminating the law which is highly questionable. And even if they do it can be reversed either by the courts or by future elections when a new Congress is elected, especially one which is more liberal or Democratic.
It should be pointed out that in reality it is the pastors that struck out. They are the theologians not the president. He is only giving them what they have asked for. Once again, we see “men of the cloth”, as Bob Jones Sr. used to say, sacrificing the permanent on the altar of the immediate. Forget the First Amendment and what it means to future generations of pastors and churches, let’s get our goodies of tax deductible gifts now and let future liberty go to you know where. Following are excerpts from an article by Ed Kilgore that was in the May 4 New York intelligencer that confirms what I’m saying. Kilgore says:
First Kilgore says, “And while the official line was that it was just a discussion draft, word soon got out that this fine work of godly craftsmanship had been quashed by that decidedly non-Christian power couple, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, who were sensitive to LGBTQ concerns about discrimination, which were naturally sky-high. Three months later, at a ceremony timed to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, President Trump finally signed a “religious liberty” order. But compared to the draft that was out there earlier, it is a bit of a nothing-burger, legally if not politically. It features a vague (and thus not very effective) exhortation to the federal government to promote and defend religious liberty, and language directing agencies to come up with ways to protect people and organizations with religious objections to the Obamacare contraception-coverage mandate (a task already more or less completed by Obama administration concessions and several federal court decisions, including the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling).
Churches Dodge the Bullet?
The following article in the May 4 Baptist Press which is the official organ of the Southern Baptist Convention is more optimistic. It says:
WASHINGTON (BP) – “Religious liberty advocates commended President Trump’s new executive order to protect faith beliefs and practice, but some said it fell short of what is needed.
Trump’s order — issued today (May 4) on National Day of Prayer in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden — says:
— The administration’s policy will be to enforce vigorously the “robust protections for religious freedom” in federal law.
— The Department of Treasury, which includes the Internal Revenue Service, will not penalize a person, house of worship or other religious organization for speaking “about moral or political issues from a religious perspective,” thereby providing relief from a six-decade-old law known as the Johnson Amendment.
— The secretaries of three federal departments will consider revising rules to protect the freedom of conscience of religious objectors to the abortion/contraception mandate imposed by the Obama administration.
The executive order does not include protections for faith-based and other federal contractors who have established their employment practices on a biblical sexual ethic. Nor does it protect individuals and institutions from being penalized by the federal government for acting in support of their belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.”
In other words, the “Palace Preachers” can wipe their collective brows and give thanks that they are safe behind the skirts of Trump and hopefully even the Supreme Court for many years to come so that they can continue to ply their trade with gifts from Caesar’s coffers, and with limits (a governor on the pulpit) that they will not endorse candidates or specific legislation under authority of the church.
They may have the approval of the general public now, because the issue is so complicated that most people cannot understand the issues involved, but the Judge of all the earth does know the difference between “legal and lawful.” Trump may make it legal with an Executive Order, but he can’t make it lawful for the Lord’s church to be supported by another Lord. He said, “No man can have two Masters.”
The Apostle John commended the early church because ”That for His name’s sake, they went forth, Taking nothing of the gentiles.” (This meant unbelievers in that day, let alone being subsidized from Caesar’s purse.)