The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the tax code that protects the integrity of our tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates. And it’s under attack.
A new study of more than 130,000 American clergy finds that faith leaders tend to be more partisan than the congregations they’re leading.
That finding should give pause to those who seek to weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment – a provision in the tax code that protects the integrity of our tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates. Changing the law could divide congregations – especially if a pastor endorses a candidate congregants don’t support.
For more than 60 years, a provision in the tax code known as the Johnson Amendment has protected the integrity of our tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates.
For months, there were reports that President Donald J. Trump was preparing an executive order that would negatively redefine religious freedom. On May 4, he signed that order – sort of.
Surrounded by faith leaders on the White House lawn and using the National Day of Prayer as a backdrop, Trump released his misleadingly named executive order, “Promoting Free Speech And Religious Liberty.”
Tomorrow at 1 p.m., Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn will participate in an “Ask Me Anything” session on the social news site Reddit. This is your chance to pick Barry’s brain about the state of religious freedom and church-state separation in America. Barry will be retiring at the end of the year after 25 years with Americans United – so this is a great opportunity to ask him about the battles he’s fought and those he sees on AU’s horizon.
President Donald Trump’s latest executive order is a direct attack on religious freedom, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“Exploiting the National Day of Prayer to trample religious freedom highlights Trump’s zeal to substitute showmanship for sincerity,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn. “Today, the president pandered to his far-right fundamentalist base, upending protections for houses of worship and allowing religion to be used as an excuse to deny women coverage for contraception and other preventive health care.”
Three recent polls continued to demonstrate a majority of Americans do not support President Donald J. Trump’s call to “get rid of and totally destroy” the federal law that bars non-profit groups, including houses of worship, from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
This provision of the tax code, known as the “Johnson Amendment” for then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, who sponsored it in 1954, is designed to prevent tax-exempt groups from acting like political action committees.
Tomorrow is President Donald J. Trump’s 100th day in office. Although he campaigned on his 100-day “Contract with the American Voter,” he no longer seems enthusiastic about the milestone. Perhaps that’s because he is facing criticism for failing to achieve any major legislative victories. One thing he has accomplished: He has caused real harm to religious freedom and has made promises to do even more.
This morning, 99 religious and denominational organizations sent a letter to Congress supporting the Johnson Amendment, which is the law that protects tax-exempt houses of worship by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose candidates. The letter also urged members of the House and Senate to reject calls from President Donald Trump to repeal or weaken the law.
As Congress and President Donald Trump gear up to tackle tax reform, they’d be wise to pay attention to the majority of Americans who don’t want tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, to endorse or oppose political candidates.