President Donald Trump said he was giving churches their "voices back" with an executive order, issued on the National Day of Prayer, directing the IRS to limit restrictions on political activity by churches.

The order affects the Johnson Amendment of 1954, sponsored by then Sen. Lyndon Johnson, which bars electioneering and outright political endorsements from the pulpit. IRS policy does allow advocacy on a wide range of advocacy on political issues, however, and only one church is known to have lost its tax-exempt status as a result of the rule.

Trump is also directing federal agencies to consider new regulations to accommodate religious groups that object to paying for contraception under Obamacare as directing the attorney general to issue guidance on religious liberty.

The American Civil Liberties Union initially threatened to sue, but then called Trump's action "an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome."

While many of us view a place of worship as a sanctuary from political conflict, it's unrealistic to expect churches to keep political, social and moral issues completely isolated.

Any effective sermon will invariably affect the way parishioners make political decisions.

While politics and religion can be taboo table topics, there's no argument with an act of kindness — there's no record of any of the 3,000 or the 5,000 turning up their noses at the loaves and fishes.

Along those lines, a couple of McCook churches are putting that principle to work this Saturday.

McCook Christian and McCook Evangelical Free Church are cooperating on Project Impact, helping dozens of people with home improvements and other projects to help make their lives better.

The project was originally planned for last Sunday, but the blizzard forced a postponement.

Memorial United Methodist Church does a free weekly meal for all comers, and check with most local faith groups and you'll find other examples of service.

Churches, service groups and individuals don't need IRS permission to work to improve the lives of their fellow man, and we're thankful that they do.

This editorial appeared in the May 5 edition of the McCook (Nebraska) Daily Gazette.

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