Action Alert

Take action today to protect the Johnson Amendment!

The U.S. House is once again considering a budget bill that would allow churches to become unaccountable, unregulated super PACs through which millions, possibly billions, of dollars in dark political money will flow. 

The bill would defund all enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which keeps all 501(c)(3)s, including churches, from endorsing political candidates. But here's the catch: the budget only defunds enforcement against churches; other nonprofits still have to obey the law.

Thanks to your help, this language was removed from the last budget bill by the Senate. Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, has estimated that this attempt to effectively repeal the Johnson Amendment for churches has a “60 percent” chance of getting into the final bill. But with your help putting pressure on lawmakers to oppose this provision while it’s still in early stages, we think we can stop it.  

This bill is currently in the House Committee on Appropriations. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., has introduced an amendment to the bill that would remove section 112, the language that endangers the Johnson Amendment. 

If your U.S. representative serves on the House Appropriations Committee, ask him or her to protect the Johnson Amendment and fund its enforcement. Please contact him or her TODAY — by phone and email if at all possible — and ask your representative to oppose defunding enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. Ask your member of Congress to only support the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill if Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s amendment is accepted.  

TAKE ACTION

Let our simple automated system contact your U.S. representative for you with a built-in script. The wording in the automated comment section is editable. We encourage you to add your own thoughts to personalize the message text, subject heading or signature.

Explain that tax exemption is a privilege, not a right. The government has correctly attached some strings to this privilege because we want charitable donations to go to charitable work, not political campaigns.

Let them know that unlike other 501(c)(3)s, churches do not have to report any financial information to the IRS. Every other charity in this country has to file a Form 990 with the IRS that tracks every penny that comes in and goes out. Churches don’t report any of this information. They are financial black holes. 

BACKGROUND 

The Religious Right’s push to undo the Johnson Amendment goes against public opinion. According to an evangelical polling group, Lifeway Research, whose slogan is “Biblical Solutions for Life,” nearly 80 percent of Americans say it’s inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church and 75 percent do not believe it is appropriate for churches to publicly endorse candidates. This is a nonpartisan issue, with only one in four Democrats and one in three Republicans supporting the idea of churches endorsing political candidates.

The National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO), an organization made up of state non-profit regulators, including state attorneys general, state secretaries of state and other agencies that are charged with regulating nonprofit regulation, sent a letter to congressional leaders opposing efforts to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment.

Earlier this year, our friends at Americans United delivered more than 4,000 letters from faith leaders from around the country to Congress all argued that the rule should remain in place. In April, a letter signed by nearly 5,500 nonprofit organizations, including FFRF, urged Congress to protect the Johnson Amendment.

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