GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump would “unleash Christian activists to fight for their beliefs” if he is elected this fall, according to Dr. James Dobson, founder of Family Talk radio and an adviser to presidents.
In a commentary published on WND, Dobson, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California and is the author of more than 30 books, wrote about a meeting he attended between Christian leaders and Trump several weeks ago.
He previously was quoted after that meeting saying he believed Trump had come “to accept a relationship with Christ,” repented of his sins and been “born again.”
Dobson, who previously had supported Sen. Ted Cruz’s candidacy, endorsed Trump during the Republican National Convention.
He said at the time it was not only because of his “great concern about Hillary Clinton,” but also because he believes Trump is “the most capable candidate to lead the United States of America in this complicated hour.”
In his commentary, which also will appear on the FamilyTalk website, Dobson wrote that he asked Trump at the meeting about what he would do to restore and protect the rights of Christians in America.
He wrote: “I said, ‘Mr. Trump, I’m sure you know that the Pilgrims came to our shores in 1620, seeking freedom to worship as their consciences dictated. Their passion for Jesus Christ became ingrained in the American soul, and greatly influenced our Founding Fathers as they formed a new government in the 18th century. These men wrote and passed the historic U.S. Constitution, and added to it a Bill of Rights shortly thereafter. It consisted of 10 Amendments guaranteeing specific liberties for the American people. There has never been anything like it in the history of the world. The first of the 10 Amendments secured religious liberties for all citizens and provided the foundation for the other nine. In recent years, however, there has been a growing assault on these rights, notably religious liberty. Our Supreme Court has struck down Bible reading in schools and even prohibited prayer to an unidentified God. Then, they banned the posting of the Ten Commandments on bulletin boards. From there, the limitation on religious liberties has become even more egregious. Most recently, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have been referring to ‘freedom of worship,’ rather than ‘freedom of religion.’ Do you understand their motive? They are suggesting that Americans are free to worship in their churches and synagogues, but not in the public square.”
Dobson said he then asked: “Sir, if you are elected president, how will you protect our religious liberties? Will we have to fight another revolutionary war to secure those rights to worship, think and speak?”
Dobson’s report said Trump was sympathetic to the plight of Christians whose faith is being misrepresented on issues of homosexuality, “gay marriage” and abortion.
“I do recall he said it was an outrage that Christians have been deprived of their rights to speak openly on behalf of the values and principles in which they believe,” Dobson wrote. “He was especially exercised by an amendment added to tax code legislation in 1954 by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson.
“Jerry Falwell, Jr., said Johnson had rammed this amendment through Congress without public scrutiny. It seriously limited freedom of religion, especially religious speech, by leaders of churches and non-profit organizations. The Johnson amendment contained language that prohibited the faith community from expressing their opinions about political parties and those seeking power,” Dobson recalled.
“That law plagues us to this day. Trump rightly condemned the legislation, which muzzled those of us who would otherwise use our influence to support our beliefs. He called that provision ‘unfair,’ and promised to overturn it if he is elected.”
Dobson wrote, “That would have a great impact on Washington because it would unleash Christian activists to fight for their beliefs.”
The Obama administration has a history of referring to “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion,” as the Bill of Rights state.
It was early in Obama’s tenure that Catholic Online and other media outlets reported what appeared to be a deliberate misdirection regarding what the Constitution requires.
Catholic Online noted that in President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt, he spoke of a Muslim America and the nation’s “freedom of religion,” but by the November 2009 memorial for the Fort Hood soldiers gunned down by a homicidal Muslim, he was terming it “freedom of worship.”
From that point, “freedom of worship” has become the term of choice, the report said, even though the administration has backtracked in one instance. In that case, Leon Rodriguez, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said in a letter to Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., that the agency now is accepting “freedom of religion,” in addition to “freedom of worship,” as a correct answer to the question, “What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?”
Lankford had asked for the change because of the agency’s use of “freedom of worship” on a naturalization test.
“On June 26, 2015, I responded that there were no plans to change the naturalization test or study materials,” Rodriguez told Lankford in a letter. “Upon further consideration, however, we have determined that making this change is feasible because it is a change in terminology rather than an addition or deletion of test content.”
Lankford charged during a congressional hearing that the government was “misrepresenting” the First Amendment.
“We in the United States actually have freedom of religion, not freedom of worship,” Lankford said.
See his comments:
“The questionnaire civics test,” he said, “has in it one of these things, ‘What are two rights of everyone living in the United States, and it listed out six different things: freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition the government, freedom of worship, the right to bear arms. I’d love to see ‘freedom of worship’ switched to ‘freedom of religion.'”
Sarah Torre of the Heritage Foundation said the difference is significant. In practice, the “freedom to worship” seldom has been challenged or even questioned, even in dictatorships like Cuba. But “freedom of religion” is under direct fire. WND has complied a Big List of Christian Coercion about this very topic.
Catholic Online said of the issue: “Let’s be clear … language matters when it comes to defining freedoms and limits. A shift from freedom of religion to freedom of worship moves the dialog from the world stage into the physical confines of a church, temple, synagogue or mosque. … It … could exclude our right to raise our children in our faith, the right to religious education, literature or media, the right to raise funds or organize charitable activities and the right to express religious beliefs in the normal discourse of life.”
Regarding, the Johnson amendment, WND has reported on an annual public challenge to the IRS.
Thousands of pastors have told their congregations what the Bible says about the positions held by electoral candidates and then informed the IRS of their actions without sparking a reaction.
As WND founder and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Farah explained in a commentary in 2008, Congress was pushed by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, D-Texas, in 1954 to adopt regulations for the IRS that ban churches from endorsing candidates.
“Under the First Amendment, Congress has no power to tax churches. Period. End of story. Under the First Amendment, Congress has no power to stifle freedom of speech. Ever since 1954, the government has unevenly applied its illegitimate oversight of churches – winking as some pastors turn their churches over to political candidates to make stump speeches, while warning others it is inappropriate. There is only one real solution – repeal the Johnson Amendment,” he wrote.
The annual event, begun in 2008, encourages pastors to openly preach on the “biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates.”
They also sign a statement agreeing the IRS should not control the content of a pastor’s sermons.
“The Johnson Amendment commissioned the IRS to be a ‘speech cop,’ a role it should not have,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “This law was specifically designed to silence public criticism of a politician. That’s clearly in conflict with the First Amendment. Political retribution to protect the powerful has never been the basis of good law.”
The restriction came about because of what Johnson saw as a solution to his own political problems.
In 1954, Johnson was facing opposition in his re-election bid from Christians and anti-communists, some of whom were speaking their minds freely from the pulpits.
Johnson, a powerful figure in the Senate who would later become John F. Kennedy’s vice president and succeed him following the assassination in 1963, had a solution for his own political predicament – to muzzle churches and clergy with federal regulations.
Through what became known as “the Johnson Amendment,” the U.S. Congress changed the Internal Revenue Service code, prohibiting non-profits, including churches, from endorsing or opposing political candidates.
“This most regrettable action has haunted America ever since,” Farah wrote. “Over the last 50 years, America’s churches have been controlled and intimidated by these hideous IRS regulations. They’ve been neutered. I blame the clergy for so timidly falling in line with the illegitimate government restrictions as much as I blame the government.”