Political Endorsements By Religious Groups

WHAT IT IS

  • The Johnson Amendment was first put into place by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson in 1954 to prevent non-profit organizations from lobbying for any cause or campaigning for any politician.
  • This restricts political speech and prevents candidate endorsement by tax-exempt entities (churches, charities, etc). Failure to comply results in loss tax-exempt status.
  • President Trump intends to repeal the law, which would require approval by both the House and Senate because it is part of the tax code.

WHY IT MATTERS

The repeal of the Johnson Amendment could greatly increase the political power and control of the religious groups in America. Religious groups, and likely Christian conservatives, could gain much more power and influence in U.S. politics and policy-making.

  • THE BELIEVERS – “Gov should not interfere”

    • Free speech: This law infringes the clergy’s first amendment rights to free speech which could allow officers of the church to speak out without retribution.
    • Right of expression: President Trump has claimed that repealing the law could enhance religious freedom in the U.S.
    • Enforcement: Many far-right Republicans feel that the law, rarely enforced by the IRS, is an unnecessary technicality.
  • THE FUNDAMENTALISTS – “Separation of Church and State”

    • Tax status: This law creates a necessary separation of church and state. If these organizations want to get politically involved, they could give up tax-exempt status.
    • Donations: These organizations should not be allowed to use public donation toward support of any political cause. This prevents conflicts of interest an organization and its donors.
    • Church vs State: The repeal of this law could cause an influx of donations to religious organizations, creating political power and influence over U.S. politics.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • The law was originally created by Johnson to help him with a senatorial race in Texas
  • As the rise of right-wing parties continues—especially in Europe—the repeal of this amendment could bolster support for far-right religious groups in the U.S.