Today more than 4,000 faith leaders from a diverse background of religious traditions and from all 50 states and the District of Columbia came together to support the Johnson Amendment. They signed a letter, which was delivered this morning, calling on members of Congress to resist any attempts to undermine current law.
The Johnson Amendment, which President Donald J. Trump has vowed to “get rid of and destroy,” ensures that tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, do not endorse or oppose political candidates.
This morning, some of the signers of the letter joined AU and our allies to hand-deliver it to offices on Capitol Hill.
More than 4,000 faith leaders are telling President Trump and Congress, "Hands off the Johnson Amendment!"
The letter does more than just push back against Trump’s rhetoric. Recently, a provision was added to a House appropriations bill that would make it nearly impossible for the IRS to enforce the Johnson Amendment.
The faith leaders who signed the letter all agree that allowing candidates and parties to receive endorsements from tax-exempt nonprofit organizations like houses of worship would undermine the integrity and independence of these organizations and sow division and discord in our communities.
Many signers explained why this issue was important to them. For example:
- “When we throw our endorsements behind particular candidates and parties, we have crossed an important line which carries us beyond serving as the spokespeople for the moral and ethical teachings of our faiths and into the role of partisan political propagandists.” – Rabbi Henry Karp of Iowa
- “It was news to me that my freedom over the last forty-five years in the same pulpit had been limited. Not true. Nothing will destroy the witness of a local congregation [more] than to invite unbridled partisan politics.” – the Rev. Gary Burton of Alabama
- “Political groups will use compliant churches as PAC funnels, allowing unlimited political donations and making them tax-deductible.” – Imam Rashid Patch of California
It is particularly important that faith leaders speak up on this matter. This is not just because repeal of the law would undermine their religious institutions, but also because Trump claims to be acting in their name when he talks about repeal. This letter, along with a previous letter signed by 99 religious and denominational groups supporting the Johnson Amendment, proves him wrong.
If you are a faith leader and haven’t yet joined this important effort, you can still sign the letter here.
Other voices are vitally important in this fight as well. That is why 4,500 nonprofit organizations, including Americans United, submitted their own letter in support of the current law. We are concerned that opening up nonprofit organizations to political endorsements will erode the public’s trust in these organizations and undermine their missions to do good works in the community.
We need you to speak out too. You can sign our petition, write a letter to the editor, or even better, visit your member of Congress during the August recess to let them know why you support the Johnson Amendment too.
To learn more about the Johnson Amendment, please visit Project Fair Play.
Several faith leaders who joined AU and allies on Capitol Hill to deliver the letters to Congress explain why the Johnson Amendment's protections are important to them in this Facebook Live video (you also can watch it on AU's Facebook page):