Americans United joined more than 125 organizations recently in asking Congress to leave intact the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that bars houses of worship and other non-profits from intervening in partisan elections.
Congress is considering legislation that would fund the operations of the Internal Revenue Service for fiscal year 2020. Some members have proposed using the bill to weaken or overturn the law.
That would be a mistake, the organizations told leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate April 25.
“Under the current law, which has been in place for more than six decades, tax-exempt organizations have enjoyed and exercised robust free speech rights and can speak out on any issues that they see as important,” reads the letter. “They can engage in public debate, and even, with a few boundaries, lobby on specific legislation. Moreover, in the election arena, they can – on a nonpartisan basis – host candidate forums, hold voter registration drives, encourage people to vote, help transport people to the polls, and invite candidates to speak. They simply cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office and maintain their special tax-exempt status.”