The Latest: Trump targeting IRS rule on churches

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on an executive order on an IRS rule on churches (all times local):

12:19 p.m.

President Donald Trump is signing an executive order that will further weaken enforcement of an IRS rule barring churches and tax-exempt groups from endorsing political candidates.

Trump signed the order at a White House ceremony Thursday marking the National Day of Prayer.

The executive order has disappointed some of Trump’s supporters who were hoping for a more sweeping measure.

The order asks the IRS to use “maximum enforcement discretion” over the regulation, known as the Johnson Amendment, which applies to churches and nonprofits.

Trump noted that “freedom is not a gift from government, freedom is a gift from God.”

And he insisted that no American should be “forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenants of their faith.”

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4:00 a.m.

President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order targeting a rarely enforced IRS rule that says religious organizations and other nonprofits that endorse political candidates risk losing their tax-exempt status.

The order also promises “regulatory relief” for groups with religious objections to the preventive services requirement in the Affordable Care Act. Those requirements include covering birth control and the move could apply to religious groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor, which have moral objections to paying for contraception.

Trump will sign the order as he marks the National Day of Prayer at the White House Thursday. He planned to meet Roman Catholic leaders in the Oval Office before signing the order.

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