May 2017 Church & State - May 2017

Groups Tell Congress To Oppose Church Politicking

  AU admin

Americans United joined a coalition of 4,500 national, state and local groups that on April 5 sent a letter to congressional leaders advising them to leave intact a federal law that bars tax-exempt, non-profit groups, including houses of worship, from intervening in partisan politics.

“Nonpartisanship is a cornerstone principle that has strengthened the public’s trust of the charitable community,” asserted the letter. “In exchange for enjoying tax-exempt status and the ability to receive tax-deductible contributions, 501(c)(3) organizations – charitable nonprofits, including religious congregations, and foundations – agree to not engage in ‘any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.’”

One day earlier, nearly 100 religious and denominational organizations sent a similar letter to congressional leaders urging them not to repeal or weaken the law, which is known as the Johnson Amendment.

President Donald J. Trump has repeatedly promised to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment and stated that repealing it would be his “greatest contribution to Christianity.”

But the Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other religious groups that signed the April 4 letter argue that the law protects the integrity of houses of worship and prevents divisiveness within the religious community.

“Houses of worship are spaces for members of religious communities to come together, not be divided along political lines; faith ought to be a source of connection and community, not division and discord,” the letter read.

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