Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee voted to cripple the IRS’ ability to enforce the Johnson Amendment – the law that ensures tax-exempt nonprofits, including houses of worship, cannot endorse or oppose candidates.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today joined 108 organizations that wrote to the House Appropriations Committee to urge its members to oppose a provision in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act that would weaken the enforcement mechanisms of the Johnson Amendment.
Tomorrow, the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee will vote on a bill that could cripple enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. Americans United has joined with 108 other organizations to urge the committee to strip the troubling provision.
Americans United in September mailed letters to 100,000 houses of worship nationwide, reminding religious leaders that it is a violation of federal law if they use church resources to endorse or oppose candidates for office this election season.
In the letter, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn explained what houses of worship can and can’t do when it comes to political activity.
By The Rev. Dr. Rollin O. Russell
Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has been telling audiences for months now that he wants to abolish the federal law that says non-profit, tax-exempt organizations can’t engage in partisan political activity by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump addressed a gathering of conservative evangelical pastors yesterday in Florida and once again vowed to allow houses of worship to jump into partisan politics if he is elected.
“If you are a Christian, you cannot support Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.…Both Hillary and Barack favor the shedding of innocent blood (abortion) and the legalization of the abomination of homosexual marriage,” Booth, senior pastor of Warroad Community Church in Minnesota, said at the time.
The Internal Revenue Service has hit a rough patch lately.
The agency, never anyone’s favorite to begin with, has been slammed by congressional conservatives who have cut funding and made it difficult for the IRS to reach full staffing levels.
A few years ago, reports circulated that the IRS had unfairly targeted Tea Party groups for heightened scrutiny. As it turned out, there was less to the story than was reported, but the matter exploded and one top official, Lois Lerner, was forced to step down.
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said recently that the Internal Revenue Service is targeting him because of his religious beliefs.
All high-profile presidential candidates are expected to release their tax returns at some point during the campaign, but Trump had not yet done so as of early March. He claimed he wasn’t able to because he is a frequent target of audits – although it’s unclear why that would prevent him making his returns public.
The state of Tennessee used to have a law that banned members of the clergy from running for public office. The U.S. Supreme Court in 1978 rightfully declared this provision unconstitutional.
In the United States, pretty much all adults, with very few exceptions, have the right to run for public office. I wouldn’t have it any other way. If democracy means anything, it means the right to choose our own leaders. Disqualifying people from the ballot because of their race, gender or religious beliefs is un-American.