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Take Action Today: Oppose Repeal of the Johnson Amendment

By: 
General Counsel/Director of Government Affairs

 

Our friends at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty have made us aware that the U.S. Senate has inserted language into the tax reform bill to repeal the Johnson Amendment. Senators need to hear the voice of faith leaders like you: Urge your Senator to leave this dangerous provision out of the tax reform bill and keep the Johnson Amendment in place.

Majorities of all major religious groups oppose repealing the Johnson Amendment. Congress has received letters from 4,200 faith leaders, 5,500 nonprofit organizations, and 103 religious and denominational organizations strongly opposing weakening or repealing current law.

The Johnson Amendment prevents 501(c)(3) nonprofits (religious organizations, universities, foundations, etc.) from “electioneering.” Electioneering has a very narrow definition, meaning to endorse or hinder a candidate in an election. Repeal of the Johnson Amendment risks turning churches into Super PACs.

For the privilege of our tax exempt/tax deductible status, nonprofit organizations including houses of worship agree not to “electioneer.” If faith communities want to electioneer, they still have a First Amendment right to do so, but they must first give up their special tax status or form an entity that is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.

Houses of worship can already speak out on any issue they want. We just cannot endorse or oppose candidates with tax-deductible dollars.

If the Johnson Amendment is repealed, a billionaire could donate money to a church instead of a political action committee, and receive a tax deduction for the gift under current law. Then the church could use the money to make expenditures in a campaign, and never reveal the donor. You, the taxpayer, would be subsidizing that political activity.

The overwhelming majority of people of faith know the corrupting influence this could have, and we know that the public will tire of subsidizing the speech of religious extremists. This puts all of our special tax statuses our institutions enjoy at risk.

Action Steps:

1.     Call Senators Cornyn and Cruz: 202-224-3121

2.    Call friends and colleagues in the following critical states and ask them to call their Senators and ask them to remove the provision repealing the Johnson Amendment:

Arizona (Sen. Flake)

Florida (Sen. Rubio)

Iowa (Sen. Grassley)

Kentucky (Sen. McConnell)

Maine (Sen. Collins)

Montana (Sen. Daines)

South Carolina (Sen. Graham)

South Dakota (Sen. Thune)

Tennessee (Sen. Corker)

Utah (Sen. Hatch)

Wisconsin (Sen. Johnson)

3.    Tweet the following to the Senators: The #JohnsonAmendment protects faith communities, religious leaders, & congregations’ prophetic voice from partisan interests. https://www.socialseer.com/resources/us-senator-twitter-accounts/