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.
Americans United has been fighting for decades through our Project Fair Play to protect the Johnson Amendment because taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the partisan election activities of churches and non-profits. In addition, the Johnson Amendment protects non-profit organizations. Endorsing candidates would put these organizations at risk of being turned into the tools of political campaigns. The small group of politicians and their supporters seeking to weaken the Johnson Amendment are actually interested in boosting their own political power.
President Donald J. Trump has vowed to “get rid of and totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment. Just yesterday at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s annual “Road to Majority” conference, Trump again voiced his intention to do away with the law. Trump referenced his May 4 executive order that set the stage for future attacks on religious freedom, including limiting enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.
“That was a big deal and it was a very important thing for me to do for you,” Trump told the gathering yesterday. “And we’re not finished, believe me. We’re not finished yet.”
A few members of Congress have introduced legislation to weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment. These attacks on the current law keep coming even though it has broad public support, including among Republicans and white evangelical Christians.
That’s why it’s vital for you to tell Congress now that you don’t want the law to change. Please sign our petition, which notes changing the Johnson Amendment “is an extremely unpopular and unwise idea. Americans do not want our charities and houses of worship to be torn apart by partisan campaign politics. In addition, taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the partisan election activities of these organizations.”
Endorsing candidates from the pulpit would put houses of worship at risk of being turned into the tools of political campaigns.
Also, faith leaders can sign a letter to let Congress know they want the Johnson Amendment to be protected. The letter explains that current law allows houses of worship and charities to focus on fulfilling their missions without being pressured to get involved in partisan campaigns by politicians and others seeking political power. Contrary to Trump’s false rhetoric, the leaders of churches and non-profits under the current law already have robust free speech rights to voice their thoughts on political and social issues.
We’ll be rolling out more ways that you can show your support for the Johnson Amendment in the coming weeks. AU will be joining allied organizations at 4 p.m. on June 27 to host a nationwide grassroots conference call to provide information about the law, updates on the attacks against it and suggestions for grassroots actions that people can take during the upcoming summer recess when members of Congress will be available in their home districts. Anyone can participate in this free, informational session by calling 1-877-275-6071 and using the code 9019771.
We need to let our representatives know that changing the current law will only further polarize congregations, charities and communities. For more information about the Johnson Amendment and what you can do to protect it, visit AU’s Project Fair Play.