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Resources


Looking To Learn More
About The Johnson Amendment?
We Have Several Resources
That You Can Use.

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Resources


Looking To Learn More
About The Johnson Amendment?
We Have Several Resources
That You Can Use.

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Talking Points


The Johnson Amendment protects
the integrity of houses or worship
& other tax-exempt organizations

Talking Points


The Johnson Amendment protects
the integrity of houses or worship
& other tax-exempt organizations

The Johnson Amendment protects the integrity of tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose candidates. Americans do not want our charities and houses of worship to be torn apart by partisan campaign politics.


Charities and Houses of Worship are tax free because they work for the common good, not so they can Support political candidates.  

  • If we repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment, taxpayers would essentially be forced to subsidize the political campaign activities of churches and other non-profits. Changing the law would also incentivize donations to organizations to support political candidates when the whole purpose of the tax-exemption is to support work that serves the community. 

  • The repeal or weakening of current law would dismantle the non-profit structure as we know it and fundamentally change the character of tax-exempt organizations. 


Political parties and candidates seeking power shouldn’t Be Allowed To use our churches and charities as political campaign tools.  

  • Current law ensures that sanctuaries remain sacred and houses of worship focus on fostering community and performing good works. This also applies to secular non-profit organizations, who without the pressure to shift their resources to candidates and campaigns, can focus on fulfilling their missions. 

  • No one wants political candidates and those seeking political power to be able to use houses of worship and other charities for their own personal political gain. This is especially true when these entities are receiving special tax-exempt status.


Changing current law to encourage churches to endorse and oppose political candidates will divide congregations.

  • Americans do not need or want more places to be divided from one another over political candidates running for office.

  • Changing the law could lead to divisions within houses of worship and among congregants, as they become split along party lines. It could also pit houses of worship against each other.

  • Changing the law could also divide charities along party lines. For example, a community could see two adversarial food pantries spring up—one that is run by and funded by Republicans and only serves those who will support Republican candidates, and the other that is run by and funded by Democrats and only serves those who will support Democratic candidates. 


Houses of worship and their leaders have robust free speech rights and can already speak out on political and social issues. 

  • Houses of worship can speak out on political or social issues. For instance, houses of worship can take positions on issues of concern, lobby on legislation and endorse or oppose non-partisan referendums; host candidate forums and distribute answers to candidate questionnaires; and encourage people to vote, including through voter registration drives, and driving people to the polls.  

  • Church leaders are absolutely free to support or endorse political candidates as private citizens or even run for office—just like any of us can. 


Americans don’t want churches in the business of endorsing or opposing political parties and candidates.

  • Changing the law is extremely unpopular. Two different polls conducted in March 2017 (one by Independent Sector and one by PRRI) found that more than 70% of voters want to keep the Johnson Amendment in place. Sixty-two percent of Republicans and fifty-six percent of white evangelical Protestants also support current law.  Read more about the recent polls.


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Polls


The Vast Majority of Americans
Support the Johnson Amendment

Polls


The Vast Majority of Americans
Support the Johnson Amendment

79% of Americans oppose repealing the Johnson Amendment, including 88% of Democrats, 78% of Independents, and 71% of Republicans. 


72% of Americans support the Johnson Amendment, including 66% of Trump voters, 78% of Clinton voters, and 77% of independent voters. 


71% of Americans oppose allowing churches and places of worship to endorse political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status.

62% of Republicans and 56% of white evangelical Christians also oppose allowing churches and places of worship to endorse political candidates while retaining their tax-exempt status.


"Nearly 90 percent of evangelical leaders do not think pastors should endorse politicians from the pulpit."


"Even among the religious groups that are most in favor of church endorsements of candidates – black Protestants and white evangelicals – just 45% of the former and 37% of  the latter say it’s OK for churches to endorse political candidates. And support is lower still among Catholics (28%), the religiously unaffiliated (26%) and white mainline Protestants (21%)."


"Eight in 10 (79 percent) say it is inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church. Three-quarters say churches should steer clear of endorsements."


"Pew Research Center surveys conducted over the past decade show a steady consensus that churches and other houses of worship should not come out in favor of one candidate over another during elections. Currently, about two-thirds of Americans take this view (66%), while 27% say churches should endorse one candidate over another."


"Two-thirds of the public (66%) say that churches and other houses of worship should not endorse one candidate over another, which is unchanged since 2004 (65%)."


"When asked to respond to the statement, 'I believe it is appropriate for churches to use their resources to campaign for candidates for public office,' 85 percent disagree including 73 percent who disagree strongly."

52% agree "that churches who publicly endorse candidates for public office should lose their tax exemption."


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Letters


Letters


Key Letters Opposing Repeal or Weakening of the JOhnson AMendment:

October 2017 Letter from Nearly 100 Members of Congress

"As Congress looks toward tax reform and other legislation this year, we hope you will keep in mind the credibility and independence of the charities that serve our communities. As such, we strongly request you not act to undermine that independence or the critical programs these provide."

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Letter From More Than 4,200 Faith Leaders

"As a leader in my religious community, I am strongly opposed to any effort to repeal or weaken current law that protects houses of worship from becoming centers of partisan politics. Changing the law would threaten the integrity and independence of houses of worship. We must not allow our sacred spaces to be transformed into spaces used to endorse or oppose political candidates."


Letter from 5,500 Non-Profit Organizations

"Nonpartisanship is a cornerstone principle that has strengthened the public’s trust of the charitable community. "                         


Letter from 103 Religious & Denominational Organizations

"The charitable sector, particularly houses of worship, should not become another cog in a political machine or another loophole in campaign finance laws."   


February 2017 Letter from 86 Non-Profit Organizations

"For more than 60 years, this rule . . . has helped maintain the integrity and autonomy of our religious and charitable sectors and preserve the boundary separating church and state."             

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Letters On Specific Legislation

Letters Urging Congress to Strip a Provision in the FSSG Appropriations Bill that Would Weaken the Johnson Amendment. Read about the bill here.

July 12, 2017 Letter from 108 Charitable and Religious Groups to the House Appropriations Committee

"This provision would make it effectively impossible for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to enforce a long-standing federal law, sometimes referred to as the Johnson Amendment, insofar as it applies to houses of worship."

July 12, 2017 Letter from Americans United  to the House Appropriations Committee

"By creating unnecessary hurdles that would slow down and prevent investigations, this provision would essentially cripple enforcement of the Johnson Amendment insofar as it applies to houses of worship." 

July 12, 2017 Letter from 13 Secular Organizations to the House Appropriations Committee

"This provision compels the Internal Revenue Service to selectively enforce a long-standing federal law
known as the Johnson Amendment, effectively preventing the agency from investigating alleged violations by
houses of worship, while holding all other nonprofits accountable to the law.

June 29, 2017 Letter from 50 Charitable and Religious Groups to the House FSGG Subcommittee

"We firmly urge you to oppose including language that would weaken the law that prevents houses of worship from engaging in political endorsements."


Faith Leaders Can Now Join This Letter:


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Editorials & Op-Eds


Editorials and Op-Eds in Support of Keeping the Johnson Amendment

Editorials & Op-Eds


Editorials and Op-Eds in Support of Keeping the Johnson Amendment

Editorials


Op-EdS

The Hill - Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe & Rabbi David Fox Sandmel, Two Faiths, But One Mind on Keeping Politics Out of the Pews

Messenger-Inquirer - Rev. Micah Spicer, Sanctuaries Should Be Houses of Prayer, Not Dens of Partisanship

U.S. News & World Report - Stephen Spaulding, Keep Charities Charitable

Miami HeraldFabiola Santiago, For God's Sake, Republicans! Preaching Politics from Pulpit is an Atrocious Idea

Texas Baptists Life - Ferrell Foster, Why the Johnson Amendment Protects Your Church

Houston Chronicle - Very Rev. Barkley Thompson, Rev. Tommy Williams, Rev. Dr. Steve Wells, Why Churches Shouldn't Endorse Political Candidates

The Daily Astorian - Rev. Bill Van Nostran, Johnson Amendment is Worth Saving

Arkansas Democrat & GazetteStephanie Ellis and Megan J. Pike, Leave Law as It Is

The Des Moines Register - Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, Why 4,000 Church Leaders Want to Keep Politics Out of the Pulpit

The Herald-Sun - Jennifer Copeland, Protect Johnson Amendment

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Rev. Stephen Copley, Keep It Separation: Pulpit No Place for Partisanship 

The Hill - Karen Gano & Tim Delaney, Congress, Defend the Common Law and Common Sense of Nonpartisanship

The Huffington Post - Rev. Timothy McDonald, Destroying the Johnson Amendment Helps Special Interests, Not Churches

The Houston Chronicle - Rev. Scott Moore, Protect the Johnson Amendment

The Dallas Morning News -  Rev. George Mason & Rabbi David Stern, A Repeal of the Johnson Amendment Would Sadly Bring Politics into Houses of Worship

The Bangor Daily News - Tiffany Muller,  Repealing the Johnson Amendment Would Turn Churches into Super PACs

MinnPost - Kristi Rendahl, Why Congress Shouldn't Repeal or Weaken the Johnson Amendment

The Hagerstown Herald-Mail - Rev. Don Stevenson, The Political Pulpit

The Forward - Rabbi Jack Moline, Ban on Partisan Pulpits Is Key to Protecting Religious Freedom

 

The New Hampshire Union Leader - Kathleen Reardon, NH Nonprofits Should Remain Nonpartisan

The Bismarck Tribune - Dana Schaar Jahne & Kevin Dvorak, Keep Nonprofits Nonpartisan

ational Catholic Reporter Pat Perriello, Johnson Amendment Did Churches a Favor

AL Dot Com - Rev. Robert Wilkerson, Politics and Churches Are Best Left Separate

Crux - Father Matthew Schneider, Churches Shouldn’t Endorse Candidates, Even If the Law Allowed

The News and Observer - Richard M. Clerkin, Repealing the Johnson Amendment Could Lead to Reduced Donations to Churches and Charities

The Wichita Eagle - Davis Merritt, Religion As a Cover for Dark Money

The Atlantic - Rabbi David Wolpe, A Rabbi Defends the Johnson Amendment

Newsweek - Philip Hackney & Betty M. Phillips, Trump May Upend Nonprofits With Vow to "Destroy" Johnson Amendment

The Houston Chronicle - Randall Balmer, Religion Flourishes in the United States Because We Keep It Separate from Government

U.S. News & World Report - Alan Brownstein, Congressional Caution Is Needed

The Winston-Salem Journal - Rev. Charles Francis Wilson, President Trump's Threat to Religious Freedom

Cleveland Jewish News - Rabbi Steven L. Denker, A Primer on the Johnson Amendment

Religion News Service - Amanda Tyler, Politicize Our Charities and Churches? No, Thanks

The Washington Post - Ellen Aprill, Trump Wants to Force You – the Taxpayer – to Pay for Campaigning from the Pulpit

The Los Angeles Times - Randall Balmer, Don't Listen to the Complainers on the Religious Right. We Need the Johnson Amendment

New York Times - Steven Waldman, How Trump Would Corrupt the Pulpit

Time Magazine - Rabbi David Wolpe, Why Religious Leaders Should Not Endorse Candidates


Commentary

Clarion Ledger - Rev. Jill Barnes Buckley and Rev. Dr. Robert William Lowry, Partisanship Threatens Mississippi Hospitality 

Winona Daily News - Jim Hightower, Turning Churches into Super PACs

The Island Packet - Rabbi Brad L. Bloom, Faith in Action: How Donald Trump Is Putting Clergy in a Difficult Position

Heritage Fellowship - Rev. Matt Sapp, The Johnson Amendment and the Christian Voice in the Public Sphere

 

The Missoulian - Rev. Jean Larson, Community of Faith: On Religious Liberty and the Johnson Amendment

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - Karris Golden, Line Between Churches, Politics Necessary

U.S. News & World Report Roger Colinvaux, Keep Dark Money Out of Charity

The Chicago Tribune - Cal Thomas, Be Careful What You Wish For

The Rexburg Standard Journal - Matthew Whoolery, Why We Need the Johnson Amendment