Letter: Pastor’s Adulation of Trump Defies Logic, and the Johnson Amendment | Opinion


Overwhelmingly unpopular and menaced with impeachment, a corrupt, autocratic president resigned, and the streets rocked with revelry and cheers.

The president who resigned was Robert Mugabe. Soon, it may be Donald Trump.

But in what may be a post-inquisition low for the Christian religion, Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas recently declared on Fox Business News that “God intervened in our election and put Donald Trump in the Oval Office for a great purpose.” Gushed program host and doormat Lou Dobbs: “It’s karma; it’s God’s will; it’s Providence.”

As a man of the cloth and the leader of a tax-exempt religious organization, Jeffress supposedly is prohibited from issuing political pronouncements. Since 1954, the so-called “Johnson Amendment” to the federal tax code, named for then-senator and future president Lyndon B. Johnson, has made this prohibition explicit.

In the absence of the amendment, donations to political parties and candidates that are funneled through churches would be tax deductible. In effect, parties and candidates would receive a public subsidy. While Johnson was a Democrat, the amendment was approved without controversy by a Republican Congress and by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It should be no surprise that Trump strongly advocates the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. Jeffress’ claim that the Almighty favors Trump thus should be taken with a pillar of salt.

As recently as 2010, moreover, Jeffress blasted Roman Catholicism as “Satanic,” excoriated Mormonism as “a heresy from the pit of Hell,” and insisted that “you can’t be saved being a Jew.” Are these convictions of the Lord as well?

One wonders whether Jeffress’ adulation of Trump is without limit. Would he beatify Trump? Did Trump help him to fish? Perhaps he would append a Book of Trump to the New Testament. Just think of the exact opposite of the Ten Commandments.

The views of Jeffress and Dobbs on Trump are, to say the least, less than universal. Indeed, Senator Jeff Flake recently blasted the president’s “flagrant disregard for truth and decency,” while National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has castigated him as an “idiot” and a “dope” with the intelligence of a “kindergartener.”

“Fake News” did not invent these people. They actually exist and are quoted here verbatim. Furthermore, they are Republicans.

As a citizen of this republic of 50 sovereign states, Robert Jeffress is absolutely entitled to freedom of speech. But in no respect is he entitled to special tax exemptions for political purposes. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not in 50 thousand years.

 

Joseph Tipler

Centralia

 

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