At the end of 2017, we won a big fight to protect the integrity of our houses of worship, nonprofits and democracy: Despite the efforts of President Donald Trump and many in Congress to use the tax bill to repeal the Johnson Amendment, it passed without any language to weaken the current law. As you may remember, the Johnson Amendment is a provision in the current tax code that ensures all tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, do not endorse or oppose political candidates.
Our battle to save the Johnson Amendment isn’t over. Now Congress is considering weakening the law once again – this time, through a major spending bill.
Last July, the House passed an appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 that included a measure to make it incredibly difficult for the IRS to investigate houses of worship that violate the Johnson Amendment, effectively rendering the provision meaningless. The Senate did not include the House’s measure in their version of the appropriations bill.
You would expect that Congress would have resolved this issue by now and passed a funding bill for 2018 already, but it hasn’t been able to. Instead, Congress has adopted bills called “continuing resolutions” (CRs) that keep the government open for small amounts of time to give Democrats and Republicans more time to come to an agreement on how to fund the government for 2018. The current CR expires on March 23, meaning Congress must sort out the Johnson Amendment issue and other issues so it can pass an appropriations bill by March 23. If Congress does not, the government will shut down.
We’re currently in a critical time when House and Senate leaders are negotiating to decide whether the final appropriations bill will repeal the Johnson Amendment.
That’s why today is our Day of Action, when we stand up with our allies to protect the Johnson Amendment. We need your help to let Congress know that we do not want them to weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment in the appropriations bill – or any other bill. We’ve saved the Johnson Amendment before, and this is our chance to do it again.
The Johnson Amendment preserves the integrity and independence of our charities and houses of worship. No one wants sacred spaces to be torn apart by partisan campaign politics.
Here’s a quick refresher on why we need the Johnson Amendment: The law protects charities and houses of worship from politicians who want to use them as political tools. In doing so, the Johnson Amendment preserves the integrity and independence of our charities and houses of worship. No one wants sacred spaces to be torn apart by partisan campaign politics.
These tax-exempt organizations can still speak out on social and political issues; they just can’t take sides in partisan elections. This makes sense. Tax-exempt status is provided to nonprofits because they do charitable work, and electoral politics is not charitable work.
And getting rid of the Johnson Amendment is deeply unpopular. The vast majority (79%) of Americans oppose its repeal, as well as 4,400 faith leaders, 5,500 nonprofits, over 100 religious and denominational organizations and 104 members of Congress who have all written to legislators asking them to oppose this proposal.
We won the last fight to save the Johnson Amendment because thousands of you called and emailed your members of Congress. On this Day of Action, please contact your senator again and tell them to leave any provision that weakens the Johnson Amendment out of the final budget bill. With your help, we can stand up for the integrity of our houses of worship and nonprofits once again!