Trump to sign executive order to ‘vigorously promote religious liberty’

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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing the Education Federalism Executive Order that will pull the federal government out of K-12 education, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, on April 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

(CNN) — President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order Thursday that could allow churches and other religious organizations to become more active politically, according to officials.

The order will direct the IRS to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” over the Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches and other religious organizations from participating in political activity based on their tax-exempt status. It will also provide “regulatory relief” for organizations that object on religious grounds to a provision in Obamacare that mandates employers provide certain health services, including coverage for contraception.

The order will declare that it is the policy of the Trump administration “to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty,” according to a senior administration official.

Trump plans to sign the order and deliver remarks during an event at the White House Thursday marking the National Day of Prayer. The event will bring national religious leaders to the White House.

The order stops short of offering broad exceptions for groups to deny services based on religious grounds. An earlier version of the order, which contained those provisions, drew criticism and was later shelved.