The Johnson Amendment had been relatively noncontroversial for decades and the law remains popular with the American people. Nonetheless, a small but vocal opposition to the provision has emerged and folks like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Donald Trump have been advocating for the repeal of the law.
Trump's Promise To Repeal And "Destroy" Current law
The Johnson Amendment made big news recently because, as a candidate, Donald Trump pledged to repeal the provision. He even amended the Republican Party’s official platform to explicitly include a call to repeal the law. Now president, Trump continues to repeat his promise that he will repeal the Johnson Amendment. At the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast, he pledged to "get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment." And at the May 4, 2017 National Day or Prayer ceremony at the White House, he signed an executive order aimed at limiting the IRS' ability to enforce the law.
Legislation To Repeal or Weaken Current law
Congress is already considering two bills that would repeal or weaken current law. In addition, representative Kevin Brady (R-TX), the Chairman of the House Ways and Mean Committee (the committee that oversees tax issues), has stated that in "our Republican tax reform, we're going to repeal the damaging effects of the Johnson Amendment once and for all."
In addition, a May 4, 2017 House Oversight & Government Reform joint subcommittee held a hearing designed to drum up support for legislation that would repeal or weaken the current law.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday
A large Religious Right group, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has been prodding pastors to openly violate the law by endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. Every election year, ADF hosts a mis-named event called “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” during which pastors are urged to endorse or oppose candidates as part of their sermons.