Oct. 10, 2017

Public Citizen Joins Religious Organizations and Civic Groups in Praising Congressional Leaders for Trying to Keep Politics Out of the Pulpit

Statement of Craig Holman, Ph.D., Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: A group of nearly 100 lawmakers urged the leaders of the tax-writing U.S. House Ways and Means Committee to maintain the Johnson Amendment, which forbids churches and other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office. The lawmakers sent a letter calling for tax reform legislation that preserves limits on political activity by nonprofits.

Thousands of faith leaders, religious groups and civic organizations across the country have been pressing U.S. Congress to preserve the prohibition on charitable nonprofits from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates. Public Citizen is proud to stand with them and praises the more than 90 congressional Democrats who went on record today opposing mixing politics with churches and other nonprofits.

The long-standing law known as the Johnson Amendment has kept churches, charities and other religious institutions who receive tax subsidies from getting in the middle of partisan politics. But that law is being challenged today in the congressional debate over re-writing the U.S. tax code. Several Republican members of Congress are following in President Donald Trump’s shoes and have proposed repealing the Johnson Amendment.

Americans do not want to see their tax-exempt churches and other charities picking sides in partisan squabbles and joining the rhetorical fray over how good or bad are the candidates for public office. Americans also do not want to see churches under pressure from government officials seeking their endorsements.

Politics does not belong in houses of worship or in the day-to-day operations of tax-supported charities and foundations.

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