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What Is The Johnson Amendment?


And Why Should You Support It?

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What Is The Johnson Amendment?


And Why Should You Support It?

The American tax code grants houses of worship and other nonprofits special tax-free status specifically because they work for the common good. The Johnson Amendment, which has been in the tax code for more than 60 years, protects the integrity of these tax-exempt organizations by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates. Americans do not want our charities and houses of worship to be torn apart by partisan campaign politics.


Here's why you should support the Johnson Amendment:

Political parties and candidates seeking power shouldn't use tax-exempt organizations—including charitable nonprofits, foundations, and houses of worship—as tools or pressure them for endorsements. These tax-exempt organizations should focus on fostering community and fulfilling their charitable missions.

Changing current law to encourage churches and charitable nonprofits to endorse and oppose political candidates will deepen divides in our congregations, organizations, and our communities.

 

Houses of worship, charitable organizations, and foundations can already speak out on any political, social, or moral issue. They just can't endorse or oppose candidates with tax-deductable dollars.
 

Changing the law is deeply unpopular among religious and denominal organizations, charitable nonprofits, faith leaders, and the American public. 4,200 faith leaders, 5,500 nonprofit organizations, and 103 religious and denomination organizations have all written to Congress strongly opposing the weakening or repeal of current law.



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Who Supports The Johnson Amendment?


Faith Leaders, Non-Profits
& The Majority Of Americans

Who Supports The Johnson Amendment?


Faith Leaders, Non-Profits
& The Majority Of Americans

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FAITH LEADERS

Current law keeps sanctuaries sacred:

Current law ensures that houses of worship focus on fostering community and performing good works. At the same time, the current law allows churches and church leaders to fully exercise their free speech.

Repealing or weakening current law would allow politicians and others seeking political power to pressure churches for endorsements, dividing congregations, and setting houses of worship against each other along political lines.

That is why over 100 religious and denominational groups and more than 4,200 faith leaders recently urged Congress to keep the Johnson Amendment in place. 

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Non-Profits

Current law protects the integrity of nonprofits:

Current law ensures that nonprofits focus on fulfilling their charitable missions. Changing the law would likely create rifts within organizations and pit non-profits against each other within the same community. It could also lead to splits in boards and donors for nonprofits that work to unite groups with differing viewpoints. 

Changing the law also would also mean that taxpayers will be forced to subsidize non-profits for endorsing and opposing candidates.

This is why more that 5,500 non-profit organizations recently urged Congress to keep the Johnson Amendment.
 

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The Majority 

Americans don't want to change the law.

Americans do not want our charities and houses of worship to be torn apart by partisan campaign politics. 

According to several recent polls, the vast majority of Americans—including the majority of people of faith and faith leaders—oppose allowing churches and places of worship to endorse political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status.

Polls show "all major religious groups in the country oppose allowing churches to endorse candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status. And, "nearly 90 percent of evangelical leaders do not think pastors should endorse politicians from the pulpit."

 



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What Are The Threats To The Johnson Amendment?


What Are The Threats To The Johnson Amendment?


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Trump's
PROMISE

The President claims he will "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. 

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BAD
Legislation

Weakening or repealing the law is under consideration

Congress is already considering several  bills that would repeal or weaken current law. The 2018 House Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill contains a provision that would make it nearly impossible for the IRS to investigate violations of the Johnson Amendment. The House tax reform bill contains a provision that would allow all tax-exempt organizations to endorse candidates.

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"Pulpit Freedom" Sunday

Event encourages openly flouting the law

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.