Among those freedoms is the right to worship according to our own beliefs. That is why I will get rid of, and totally destroy, the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution. I will do that — remember. – President Donald Trump (National Prayer Breakfast Remarks 02/02/17)
Many people listening to the President’s speech probably did not know what he was talking about when President Trump mentioned the Johnson Amendment at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
The 1954 amendment was named for then-Senator Lyndon Johnson and regulates what tax-exempt organizations such as churches can do in the political arena. (NPR)
Here is what the IRS says about it:
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
NPR has more information about the Johnson Amendment HERE.
I am not in favor of repealing the Johnson Amendment. I attend church regularly and it is kind of a sanctuary for me to get away from politics and think about God and the Bible.
The Johnson Amendment does not prevent churches from urging people to vote and praying for our elected leaders and handing out voter guides that list the views of the candidates.
There are already Christian-based groups that are not 501(c)(3) organizations that lobby congress on behalf of families, religion, and life.
If churches could be more involved in campaigns you might see inserts in your bulletin from candidates, campaign signs on church property, candidates’ bumper stickers on the cross, and before we hear the message from the pastor, the church may show a campaign commercial on the big screen.
I don’t think we need that in our church lives.