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Springs church leaders respond to 'religious liberty' executive order

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COLORADO SPRINGS -

On the National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed an executive order promised to "protect and vigorously promote religious liberty."

It's designed to further weaken enforcement of an IRS rule barring churches and non-profits from endorsing political candidates.

Many of the religious leaders News 5 spoke with on Thursday -- local churches, Focus on the Family, the Colorado Catholic Conference and the Family Policy Alliance -- say this is a positive step in the right direction for our community.

The order will allow churches and non-profits to endorse who they please without fear of losing their non-profit status.

Mark Cowart, Senior Pastor at Church For All Nations, says he's already been speaking freely for the past five years since Pulpit Freedom Sunday. This was a day when churches across the nation united to start a movement against the Johnson Amendment, a loosely enforced amendment that prevented religious leaders from talking politics since the 1950's.

Pastor Cowart says nothing will change at his church since he's already been openly speaking every Sunday, but he says the president's executive order is a symbolic step in the direction he's been fighting for.

"Not only for our community but for our nation, no pastor has to fear speaking about issues, whatever the bible has to say about it, they can speak freely without any fear of being drug into court," Cowart said.

Another part of Thursday's executive order is giving "regulatory relief" to companies like Hobby Lobby who object to the Obamacare mandate for contraception in health care.

"President Trump's executive order today seeks to allow even more employers to deny their employees this necessary health care service under the guise of their personal religious views," said Adrienne Mansanares, Chief Experience Officer of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. "We disagree with the premise of this executive order and are saddened by the consequences this may have for working women."

This executive order is simply a promise to dismantle the Johnson Amendment, fully repealing the amendment will require action from Congress.

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