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.
WHERE WE ARE NOW
- President Trump vowed to “totally destroy” the amendment at the National Prayer Breakfast in early February
- The power to levy and regulated taxes is given to the legislative branch in Article 1 of the Constitution
- The repeal of the amendment could allow churches to function like PACs, but, because they don’t have to make the same disclosures, money donated through churches could be less regulated.
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.