Friday, November 03, 2017

Republican Tax Bill Would End Johnson Amendment Ban On Partisan Sermons

As reported by CBS, House Republicans yesterday released their proposed tax reduction plan.  The bill (full text) titled "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" includes a limited change in the Johnson Amendment that would allow sermons that endorse specific candidates. The Johnson Amendment prohibits Section 501(c)(3) non-profits from participating in partisan political campaigns.  Yesterday's proposal (Sec. 5201) would provide a limited exceptions to that ban as it applies to churches (and their integrated auxiliaries and conventions and associations of churches).  Here is the relevant portion of the proposed language in the bill:
... an organization described in section 508(c)(1)(A) shall not fail to be treated as organized and operated exclusively for a religious purpose, nor shall it be deemed to have participated in, or intervened in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, solely because of the content of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings, but only if the preparation and presentation of such content— (A) is in the ordinary course of the organization’s regular and customary activities in carrying out its exempt purpose, and (B) results in the organization incurring not more than de minimis incremental expenses.