FILE - In this Wednesday, May 3, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a school choice event in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
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President Donald Trump is seeking to further weaken enforcement of an IRS rule barring churches and tax-exempt groups from endorsing political candidates, in a long-anticipated executive order on religious freedom that has disappointed some of his supporters.As he marks the National Day of Prayer at the White House Thursday, Trump is planning to sign an executive order asking the IRS to use "maximum enforcement discretion" over the regulation, known as Johnson Amendment, which applies to churches and nonprofits.The order also promises "regulatory relief" for groups with religious objections to the preventive services requirement in the Affordable Care Act, according to a White House official. Trump hosted members of his evangelical advisory board at the White House Wednesday night and planned to meet with Roman Catholic leaders Thursday before signing the order.Fully abolishing the regulation would take an act of Congress, but Trump can direct the IRS not to enforce the prohibitions.The IRS does not make public its investigations in such cases, but only one church is known to have lost its tax-exempt status as a result of the prohibition.In a February survey of evangelical leaders conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents churches from about 40 denominations, 89 percent said pastors should not endorse political candidates from the pulpit.
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