Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized Republicans in the House of Representatives for their continuing efforts to undermine the Johnson Amendment, a provision in federal law that prohibits tax-exempt nonprofit organizations from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
Last week, the GOP leadership unveiled a tax bill that contained a provision that allows houses of worship, but not other nonprofits, to endorse or oppose candidates. Today, a House committee voted to vastly expand that language to include secular nonprofits and foundations as well.
“The House Republican leadership simply doesn’t get it,” said Maggie Garrett, legislative director for Americans United. “Their efforts to ‘fix’ a non-existent problem are only making things worse. They want to turn tax-exempt organizations into political campaign tools, which will threaten the integrity of our nonprofits and houses of worship, as well as our elections.”
Garrett pointed out that several polls show that the American public doesn’t support weakening the Johnson Amendment. Clergy, faith leaders, religious organizations and charitable nonprofits also don’t back the move.
“Allowing tax-exempt groups, whether religious or secular, to jump head first into partisan elections is a bad idea,” said Garrett. “The way to fix this bad idea is by abandoning it, not expanding it.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.