Two tax bills wended their way through Congress this week and their passage could have huge implications for church-state separation. Both the House and Senate bills are called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but they are very different from one another.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized the U.S. House of Representatives for passing H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which would essentially repeal the Johnson Amendment. This 63-year-old provision in federal law protects the integrity of our elections and tax-exempt nonprofits, including houses of worship, by ensuring the organizations don’t endorse or oppose candidates for public office.
Republicans in the House of Representatives yesterday doubled-down on their efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which is the provision in current law that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates.
Thanks to a vote taken by members of the House Ways and Means Committee, now all tax-exempt organizations – including houses of worship, charitable nonprofits and foundations – could endorse or oppose candidates in all of their activities.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized Republicans in the House of Representatives for their continuing efforts to undermine the Johnson Amendment, a provision in federal law that prohibits tax-exempt nonprofit organizations from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
When Republican leaders in the House of Representatives unveiled their tax legislation earlier this month, the measure included a harmful provision that would severely weaken the Johnson Amendment, a federal law that prevents all tax-exempt organizations – including houses of worship, charitable nonprofits, foundations and others – from endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today expressed disappointment over a vote by a House committee on a provision in the new tax bill that threatens to draw America’s houses of worship into partisan politics.
A year ago, when Donald Trump and Mike Pence were elected to the highest offices in the land, Americans United warned of the many threats this administration posed to church-state separation. We promised that if any of those threats came to fruition, we would be ready to fight back and defend religious freedom.
Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee began preliminary discussion over the new tax bill, which includes language that severely weakens the Johnson Amendment, a provision of the tax code that protects the integrity of tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose candidates.
The tax bill, if passed as is, would allow churches – but not other tax-exempt organizations – to endorse political candidates if the endorsement happens during “religious services and gatherings.”
Tomorrow is election day in some parts of the country. Most political analysts are keeping a close eye on Virginia’s gubernatorial race, seeing it as a mini-referendum on the presidency of Donald Trump.
But there are other interesting races as well. One of them is taking place in Douglas County, Colo., where a school board election has attracted national interest.
The vast majority of Americans support the Johnson Amendment – the provision in the tax code that ensures tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, do not endorse or oppose political candidates. But the leadership of the House of Representatives ignored the American people today when they released a tax-reform package that includes language that exempts houses of worship from the law.