Johnson Amendment

Support protection of Johnson Amendment

The Johnson Amendment is under fire by a very few!  Please show your support for an amendment to the House’s tax reform bill that will keep dark religious dollars out of politics.

Among the promises made by Donald Trump during the campaign was repeal of the “Johnson Amendment,” the tax law provision that prohibits 501(c)(3) charities — Johnson Amendmentincluding churches — from supporting or opposing candidates for office. The congressional tax bill is delivering that promise by weakening the amendment and opening church doors to partisan shenanigans.

Georgia Rep. John Lewis is proposing an amendment to the House bill, scratching the provision that would eviscerate the Johnson Amendment. Please contact the House Ways and Means Committee and urge it to support this amendment.

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(Keep reading for more information about the Johnson Amendment and the effort to repeal it.)

Background

Johnson Amendment

As part of their public trust, 501(c)(3)s file financial information with the IRS and every penny donated and spent is tracked by the government. But churches file nothing, and without the Johnson Amendment, any mega-donor could write a check to the nearest church for any amount, earmark the donation for a political campaign and take the tax write-off. Meanwhile, the church can then spend the donation on anything, including politicking. Essentially, churches would become unregulated, unaccountable super-PACs. We might even see PACs reorganizing as churches to compete for donors who would now give their donation, now tax-deductible, to churches.

During his proposal to save the Johnson Amendment, Rep. Lewis described his reaction to the effort to destroy the amendment:

“It never crossed my mind that with our notice of warning, this committee would actually consider a bill to repeal the Johnson Amendment,” he said. “It was too crazy, too unbelievable of an idea to be even possible. When I reached the end of the bill, I was shocked and appalled.”

Analysts have noted that permitting a large group of previously nonpartisan organizations to become partisan will bring much more dark money into our elections – and that money will be tax deductible.

There is massive opposition to changing this law.

Since this law came under attack, thousands have spoken out saying how important it was to them. Over 100 spiritual organizations, more than 4,200 individual religious leaders, 5,500 nonprofits (including law-enforcement groups), and nearly 100 members of Congress have signed letters detailing the damaging effects alteration of the law would have on their communities.

Recent polls show strong support for the law. Only a few individuals seeking power are behind challenges to the law, as no denomination supports changes.

These changes to the Johnson Amendment are unacceptable, and must be opposed at every level. Please support Rep. Lewis’ amendment stripping this harmful provision.

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