Trump Issues Executive Order on Religious Liberty

On the 4th of May, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on religious liberty.

The executive order directs Treasury not to enforce the Johnson Amendment against religious organizations.

The Johnson Amendment is a provision of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits religions and other non-profit organizations from expressing their opinions on political candidates. If they make political statements for or against a particular candidate, their tax exempt status could be revoked. It is a quintessential example of America’s division of state and religion.


Trump’s Desire to Protect Faith

Why has Trump started to demolish the separation between state and religion?

At the signing of the executive order, Trump gave a speech in which he emphasized the importance of protecting people of faith. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore and we will never, ever stand for religious discrimination. Never, ever.” He said.

Trump attacked the Johnson Amendment for targeting “pasters, priests and imams” and likened it to an “execution”, noting its unfairness. The executive order marks the end of oppression and the first step toward attaining religious liberty.

His choice of words – “bullied”, “discrimination” and “execution” – show that he views the separation of state and religion as an invasion of religious liberty.


The Separation of State and Religion Is There to Protect Religion

In contrast to what most people think, the original purpose of separating church and state was to prevent state authorities from oppressing and intervening in religious affairs. In other words, it was to protect religious liberty.

It was not introduced because people thought religion was dangerous. Philosopher John Locke, who first proposed the idea, was someone who did not tolerate atheism.

Many other countries, including Japan, often think this separation means that religious organizations should not engage in political activities. But this not only opposes the government’s opinions but also opposes the Constitution. The Constitution of Japan upholds the religious and political liberty of each person. If religious people were not allowed to participate in politics, it would be a serious breach of the Constitution.


Politics Originated From the Words of God

If we examine the roots of politics and religion, it becomes clear that they are in fact inseparable. In a lecture celebrating the 8th anniversary of the founding of the Happiness Realization Party, its founder Master Ryuho Okawa addressed this issue:

“We can easily separate politics and religion in terms of policy, but they are inseparable in their content. This is because God not only teaches how to live a good life, but also about the good and evil involved in governance.”

The foundation of politics lies in directing the community according to the voice of God. So both religion and politics originate from the voice of God.

“Freedom is not a gift from the government – freedom is a gift from God.”

Trump’s paraphrase of Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote is a truth that we must all start thinking about for the betterment of this world.

Trump Issues Executive Order on Religious Liberty
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