A Wisconsin Democrat said that removing the "Johnson Amendment" barring political endorsements by preachers and non-profits will "make the Sunni-Shi'a conflict in the Middle East look like a picnic."
Rep. Ron Kind (D) of La Crosse made the remarks during a markup of the House version of the Republican tax reform bill.
Then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas) authored the amendment to the U.S. Tax Code in 1954. President Trump has repeatedly called for it to be removed, and many Republicans have shared the sentiment.
Kind was reacting to a motion by fellow Democrat John Lewis of Georgia, who introduced an amendment keeping the Johnson Amendment preserved in the tax bill.
Kind, who identified himself as a practicing Lutheran, said he views his fellowship in church on Sunday as a way to "spend some time as a community, and as a nation, regardless of political affiliation."
"I view [my church] as a sanctuary for my soul," he said.
He said that in the age of hyper-partisanship on all sides, preserving the Johnson Amendment would retain worship as an activity free from political disagreements.
"Repealing the Johnson Amendment will politicize the pulpit. It will create Civil War in the pews. It will establish Republican and Democratic churches, synagogues and mosques overnight," Kind said.
Kind said that if the Johnson Amendment is repealed, "it is going to make the Sunni-Shi'a conflict in the Middle East look like a picnic."
The conflict between the two major Muslim sects is centuries-old, and currently is exemplified by the divide between the Sunni House of Saud in Saudi Arabia and the Shi'a-majority nation of Iran.