Trump Vows Repeal of Endorsement Ban • Evangelist’s Sexual Misconduct • Member’s Rights: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Trump Vows Repeal of Endorsement Ban • Evangelist’s Sexual Misconduct • Member’s Rights: News Roundup

Trump Promises to Repeal Political Endorsement Ban for Churches. “Donald Trump pledged that if elected president he would repeal a law that keeps tax-exempt nonprofits, including houses of worship, from endorsing candidates. Trump, delivering a 28-minute speech in New York on Saturday [July 16] that was ostensibly an introduction of his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, veered to an array of other topics. One was concerns by evangelicals about their political activities. ‘You are absolutely shunned if you’re an evangelical if you want to talk religion, you lose your tax-exempt status,’ he said, noting that his advisers had shepherded a pledge to repeal the ‘Johnson amendment’ into the Republican Party platform. ‘We’re going to get rid of that horrible Johnson amendment and we’re going to let evangelicals, we’re going to let Christians and Jews and people of religion talk without being afraid to talk,’ the Republican presidential nominee said. Sponsored by Lyndon Johnson in 1954 when he was a Texas senator, the amendment limits political activities for nonprofits classified as tax-exempt. The law does not apply to individuals” (“Trump Vows to End Ban on Churches Endorsing Candidates,” Times of Israel.

There are a number of rules governing churches’ political involvement. We offer expert guidance on what churches can and cannot do politically in our newly released politics download.


Judge Rules Church’s Ban of Member Not a Violation of Rights. A federal judge in New York has ruled that a church member barred from Cornerstone Baptist Church premises and threatened with being arrested for trespassing should he return does not have a basis for conspiracy or retaliation claims, reports Religion Clause. The judge noted, “Although plaintiff has the right to worship how he chooses, Cornerstone's decision to ban him from its property is not a violation of his constitutional rights.”

Source: “Court Says Suit over Church Member’s Trespassing Ban Should Be Dismissed,” Religion Clause.

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Famous Chinese Evangelist Accused of Multiple Instances of Sexual Misconduct. Following her father’s suggestion in early 2013, a Christian university student contacted China Soul for Christ Foundation—a top evangelistic organization for the global Chinese church—asking to apply for an internship. Across two days in September, she met in Paris with China Soul’s famous founder Yuan Zhiming, expecting an interview. But the first time they met, the 23-year-old student alleges she found herself in bed with Yuan, watching a soft porn movie in an airport hotel room. She realized something had gone horribly wrong and left the hotel. This woman’s story of surviving sexual misconduct is laid out in a new independent investigation from GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), which has produced other reports about abuse at Bob Jones University and New Tribes Mission. The investigation was undertaken at the request of Chinese Christian Life Fellowship (CCLife), a publishing and discipleship ministry founded in 1996. An earlier report, published by CCLife, found that four people alleged misconduct by Yuan. But the GRACE report focuses on just the university student’s account” (“Allegations of Sexual Misconduct by Famous Chinese Evangelist Span 24 Years,” Christianity Today).

For help on what church leaders need to have in place to avoid such situations, see the download Preventing Sexual Misconduct in Youth Ministry.


Pew Charts Governmental and Social Hostilities to Religion. Pew Research Institute published an article highlighting “religious restrictions among the world’s most populous countries,” including the United States. The article contains a graph visually charting changes in religious restrictions, both social and governmental, by country. It also notes:

In the United States, social hostilities in 2014 rose to a high level for the first time. In April 2014, a gunman opened fire on civilians outside of a Jewish retirement home in Kansas City. The attacker also targeted a nearby community center, killing three people.

Source: “Religious Restrictions among the World’s Most Populous Countries,” Pew Research Center.

Attorney and Editorial Advisor Stuart Lark answers the question “How Does State Affect Church—Really?” in our online Q&A.

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This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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