Trumps National Day of Prayer: Politicize Religion, and Slash Healthcare
Trump has held two TV worthy Rose Garden events on this National Day of Prayer, that strayed rather far from our traditions of Religion. The first was to give “free speech” to religion by executive order. This was to counter the Johnson Amendment from 1954 that said that a tax exempt religious entity would lose its tax exemption if it became political. Clearly, nobody has ever stopped our sermons from covering issues on which religion speaks for morality or for what the Bible says. The Johnson Amendment just prohibits them from claiming a tax exemption if they endorse a political candidate.
The First Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting the establishment of religion, ensuring that there is no prohibition on the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Since the Johnson Amendment is an act of Congress, commenters say that it can only be removed by another act of Congress. The ACLU may already challenge the executive order.
All that I want to write about it here, is that the first states were formed by religious refugees from countries that had governments which discriminated against them. The last thing they wanted was for government to get involved in politics, or vice versa. Trump and VP Pence are definitely violating this spirit in removing the Johnson Amendment. While most religions do not want to divide their flocks over politics, they may be forced become political if they are challenged by other politicized religions. This is just the kind of religious strife that we have avoided, and which has broken apart many other countries.
Politicized religious groups could also then presumably raise money for particular candidates, which would divide the flock, and be another monetary incursion into politics, like Citizen United PACs are.
The other religious related issue today is Trump’s “unbelievable” squeak-by passage by two votes of the Trump-no-care health plan in the House. This lowers the amount spent on Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years. It will give nearly $300 billion in tax rollbacks to high income people over 10 years. States can allow insurers to opt out of several essential services, such as maternity care, and emergency services.
Seniors can now be charged five times as much as the young, rather than three times as before. About 55% of Americans have pre-existing conditions, and 86% of those aged 55-65. States can opt to allow insurers to charge more for sicker people.
Health care, respect for the elderly, and even miraculous cures are basic Biblical faiths, that are associated with God and religion. We pray to God for help with our health, and with the health of others. While we now have advanced medicine that can do wonders, it is often expensive, and people can only use it if they have adequate health coverage. It is clearly irreligious to cut back on health care, especially on National Prayer Day, and also to give the saved funds to tax cuts for the wealthy.