Donald Trump vows to bring power back to Evangelicals by repealing Johnson Amendment

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump doubled down on his promise to back Evangelicals and to empower them by bringing their political voice back.

Trump talked largely about the Johnson Amendment when he attended this week's two-day event "Rediscovering God in America Renewal Project" at the Hyatt Regency on International Drive in Orlando, Florida.

Attendees pray after Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump spoke at an American Renewal Project event at the Orlando Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, August 11, 2016. | Reuters/Eric Thayer

The amendment, named after its chief proponent and then-senator Lyndon Johnson in 1954, prohibits religious groups and charitable organizations from making political endorsements at the risk of losing their tax-exempt privilege.

Trump realized how the legislation held back influential Evangelical leaders from going all out in endorsing him as the next U.S. president. The real estate business mogul also blamed the legislation for the church's diminished attendance and Christianity's downward trend.

"We'll get it out," vowed Trump to a gathering of evangelical pastors. "We'll be able to terminate the Johnson Amendment. And you'll have great power to do good things and religion will start going instead of this way (downward motion)."

The 70-year-old billionaire also promised to repeal the law and bring back the voice of the evangelicals and religious leaders in his nomination acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention held in Cleveland, Ohio last month.

"They have so much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits," said Trump, after thanking the support of the evangelical community.

He added, "I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans."

Trump said he only became aware of the Amendment after his first meeting with religious leaders months ago. He said the pastors supported him but turned mute on expressing their public support, which baffled the businessman.

"There was like silence in the room," recounted Trump. "Silence. I said 'What is this? What's going on? Why is there silence?'"

Although Trump also vowed to back the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during the National Convention, gay rights activists also gathered outside the Hyatt Regency to protest the conference as a form of bigotry against LGBT people.