President Donald Trump seems to have divided Americans in just about every way, so I was not surprised by a Feb. 12 article about how pastors are struggling with how to maintain the allegiance of parishioners whose political views conflict with Scripture the pastor wants to preach.

Although I’m an atheist, unlike “so-called” Christian Donald Trump, I’ve worked with religious groups on matters like helping refugees and homeless, addressing racial issues, climate change and other social justice concerns.

More than 80 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, the least religious president in my lifetime. I can’t picture Trump believing in a power higher than himself.

My favorite Trump quote is what he said after claiming he couldn’t reveal his tax returns because of purported ongoing government audits: “Maybe I get audited so much because I’m a strong Christian.” Really? How much faith does that statement require?

The newspaper article also mentioned local Rev. Kevin Baird’s hope that Trump will fulfill his promise to repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which bars all tax-exempt organizations, including churches, from endorsing political candidates.

Under our current tax code, religious nonprofits already enjoy the privileged status of being exempt from both taxes and financial disclosure. The repeal of the Johnson Amendment would unleash a new wave of dark money into the political system, effectively transforming houses of worship into the equivalent of religious Super PACs. Churches would be permitted to collect tax-deductible offerings to donate to partisan campaigns.

I hope Americans of all faiths — and of none — will oppose repeal of the Johnson Amendment and defend the wall of separation between church and state.

When faith groups become embroiled in politics, our nation moves closer to becoming a theocracy. Perhaps such concerns are why the fastest growing segment of the American population are the “nones,” those with no religious affiliation.

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These non-religious citizens now outnumber Jews, Muslims, and most individual Christian denominations. They are not all atheists, but they are disturbed by the hypocrisy they see in religious organizations.

Herb Silverman

George Street


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