The Catholic news magazine Crux reports:
President Donald Trump identified himself as the “best [president] in the history of the Catholic Church” in a conference call for Catholic leaders and educators Saturday, where he warned that issues at stake in the upcoming presidential election, particularly on abortion and religious liberty, “have never been more important for the Church.”
In an audio recording of the meeting obtained by Crux, the president repeatedly emphasized his support for the pro-life movement and school choice, attempting to paint a stark contrast between his administration and what a Democratic presidency could mean for Catholics.
He also highlighted his opposition to the Johnson Amendment, which prevents tax exempt institutions from endorsing or opposing political candidates. He described it as “very viscous, adding that “I got rid of it so you can express your views very strongly.”
Hemant Mehta reacts at The Friendly Atheist:
As with most everything he says, he’s lying about the Johnson Amendment. He didn’t get “rid” of it. Even right-wing Christians acknowledged that early on, in addition to Trump’s own Justice Department.
It’s still illegal for pastors and priests (and other non-profit leaders) to endorse candidates from the pulpit and keep their tax exempt status. Just because the IRS doesn’t have the staff to pursue every case doesn’t mean it’s suddenly okay.
Obviously Trump didn’t call these Catholic leaders because he has any interest in their faith. He did it because he needs Catholics to vote for him, and the conservative leaders in the Catholic hierarchy may have the power to sway votes. To do it, he directly reminded them of the election date and spread the lie that Democrats want to murder newborn babies.
Virtually all of the nation’s Catholic leaders were on the call, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan. As Mehta notes, not one of them pushed back on Trump’s many lies, including his claim that the Catholic Church will be damaged if he’s not reelected. Joe Biden, it’s worth noting, is a practicing Catholic and would only be the second one ever elected after JFK.