This morning, 99 religious and denominational organizations sent a letter to Congress supporting the Johnson Amendment, which is the law that protects tax-exempt houses of worship by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose candidates. The letter also urged members of the House and Senate to reject calls from President Donald Trump to repeal or weaken the law.
As explained in the letter, faith leaders understand that the Johnson Amendment protects the integrity and independence of houses of worship. They worry that repeal of current protections would fundamentally change their character and diminish the distinctive role of houses of worship: “The charitable sector, particularly houses of worship, should not become another cog in a political machine or another loophole in campaign finance laws.”
This letter is yet another confirmation that the Trump narrative – which claims religious people oppose the law and that repeal will be his “greatest contribution to Christianity” – is pure fiction.
Even before the religious and denominational organizations went on the record with this letter, we knew that people of faith and faith leaders supported current protections. A March 2017 Evangelical Leaders Survey showed that 89% of evangelical leaders do not think that pastors should endorse politicians from the pulpit. And, a March 2017 PRRI poll found that “all major religious groups in the country oppose allowing churches to endorse candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status.”
The majority of people of faith and faith leaders don't want their houses of worship to be politicized.
Support for the current law has been and continues to be strong among religious groups. This letter shows support from a wide variety of denominations and religious communities including the Baptist Joint Committee, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, the Franciscan Action Network, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Islamic Society of North America, and many others.
The religious and denominational organizations have an important role to play in this fight over repeal or weakening of the Johnson Amendment, and so do you. Now is the time to take action and tell the President and your representative in Congress to oppose any change to the Johnson Amendment.
You can learn more about the Johnson Amendment and AU’s decades-long work to protect it at Project Fair Play.