Talk about a thorny and potentially divisive issue that is now being addressed in the US Congress tax reform package.The framers of this massive omnibus bill, besides proposing a major overhaul of the tax system, have included a clause that eliminates the Johnson amendment of 1954. If they succeed, church leaders could endorse candidates and political causes without losing their tax exemption as a religious organization. Looking past the so-called best 1st Amendment claims of the legislation, there seems, according to a number of guests on this morning’s “On Point” phone-in show, a lot of concern that this move could parlay into something more ominous where pastors openly support certain candidates and parties to the point of dividing congregations. While a very prominent coalition of white protestant evangelical churches in America openly support this move, as a reinforcement of the right to free speech, 89% of religious leaders and congregations are opposed. Motivating all this possible firestorm is Trump’s open and current courting of evangelicals to shore up his political base of 35% of active voters. So what does this all mean to me here in Canada where this politically-rife discussion has yet to emerge? For starters, as a Christian, I appreciate the separation of church and state for several reasons. One, I enjoy, along with many others, the glorious opportunity of meeting regularly with other Christians without the imposition of political divisions. While they do exist, they are largely ignored because we are there for something infinitely more important than supporting a political. Two, my giving to charitable causes within the church receives a modest tax deduction that only encourages me to give more. This past Sunday, I was reminded of all the many community efforts my church supports that make a huge difference in people’s lives. As well, our church is not under the thumb of big government in terms of a set of values that are counter to our beliefs. If I lived in the USA today, I would definitely be opposed to removing this amendment, free speech notwithstanding, because its potential downside far exceeds its intended upside in reforming society. Yes, unions may have a tax-free status that allows them to endorse all kinds of radical causes that go counter to individual member’s views, but that is hardly germane to what applies to life within a church which professes a different kind of unity that is not constrained by force but by love.