Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump Again Calls For Repeal of Politicking Limits on Churches-- Some Background

In Donald Trump's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last night (full text from Politico), he repeated his previous promise to work for repeal of the Johnson Amendment, saying:
At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical community who have been so good to me and so supportive. You have so much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits.
An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.
I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans.
The relevant language is found in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code which, in describing religious and charitable organizations that qualify for tax-exempt status, says that they may "not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

Here is a history and critique of the Johnson Amendment from the perspective of Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that seeks its repeal. And here is an issue of Liberty Magazine containing four articles largely supporting the Amendment's underlying policy and constitutionality.