On July 13th, The House Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill was voted out of committee 31-32 and heads to the full US House of Representatives for consideration. The bill includes a section that would basically eliminate the Johnson amendment enforcement of the tax code against churches opening them up to used as political tools and bribery facilitators.
Tag: tax exemption
During remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump said he wanted to ‘totally destroy the Johnson Amendment’. The amendment is a rule that prohibits churches from giving money or endorsing candidates as part of the deal for federal tax exemption. Trump’s statement puts religious freedom in danger and opens the churches up to dark money that has ruined our election process.
Every election cycle, Secular Americans have to endure slimy pandering to the religious right by candidates looking to get elected to office. Some on the right of the political spectrum want to see the Johnson Amendment repealed so that churches are free to be involved in politics as much as they want. As it stands now, promises for repealing the law is pandering because it is hardly enforced and it can’t get a repeal vote now in a Congress with a Republican majority.
The Johnson Amendment refers to a change in the US Tax code passed in 1954. It was introduced by then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and some have said he did it to silence some opponents to his reelection to the Senate.
Earlier this month, as soon as the Republican party took full control of both houses of Congress, Rep. Walter Jones [R-NC-3] introduced a bill that would remove the electioneering prohibition for churches and other 501(c)3 tax-exempt groups. This is a good and bad bill so I’m torn over it. While it would open a Pandora’s box of electioneering for churches, the current language of the bill would remove the restriction for all tax-exempt groups.
The American Humanist Association is sounding the alarm:
This Sunday, October 5th, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday will take place. They claim it’s about religious freedom when in fact it’s about creating a lawsuit they can use to try and get tax regulations against electioneering by churches tossed out as unconstitutional. Finally, this year they might get their lawsuit.
Last month I posted about a settlement between the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over policing electioneering by churches. The IRS had for years dragged its feet in investigating complaints about churches violating the terms of the tax exemption rules by getting too political. Of course conservatives now claim, with the settlement, that a church’s first amendment rights will be violated. Such a claim is utter hogwash.