Fate of the Johnson Amendment Soon To Be Decided
Fate of the Johnson Amendment Soon to be Decided
By Jason Yates, CEO, My Faith Votes
On November 16th the U.S. House overwhelming passed a tax cut and reform bill and the Senate followed and passed a different version of tax reform on December 2nd.
Now both bills go to conference where leaders from the House and the Senate will negotiate to reconcile the differences in the two measures. President Trump calls the process the “mixer” where compromises will be made to create the best possible bill for the American people.
There is one item many faith leaders are hoping makes the conference “cuts” and finds a place in the final bill, The Johnson Amendment.
According to our My Faith Votes survey, an overwhelming 82% of people support repealing the Johnson Amendment.
History of the Johnson Amendment
According to The Federalist, the 1954 Johnson Amendment was authored by then-senator Lyndon Baines Johnson. He was seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate and faced a very competitive primary challenger. The senator assumed that tax-exempt foundations were secretly supporting his primary opponent.
To stop them Senator Johnson introduced an amendment to the IRS code regarding tax-exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the code. The amendment prohibited tax-exempt status for any entity that supported or opposed political candidates. It was an amendment intended to silence a couple of organizations but instead silenced the institution primarily credited with the founding of our nation – the church.
It was an unconstitutional amendment back in 1954, and it remains in violation of the Constitution today. The Johnson Amendment violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by restricting a Pastor’s free speech.
Why the Church & Politics Can’t Be Separated
Secularists would like to believe that the church and politics should be separate. Like different food groups that shouldn’t touch on one’s plate – well that just isn’t the case. Abortion, poverty, gay marriage, transgenderism and the list goes on are all issues addressed in the word of God, and they are all issues that directly relate to our faith. For a pastor to set aside teaching on these subjects as it relates to their community and their country is to disregard part of God’s word and His principles for our lives. When Christians fail to apply God’s word to the problematic issues in our world, our light goes dim, and we stop being God’s salt on this earth.
The Founding Father Era Understood This Deeply
In fact, ministers were even politicians, and they spoke out boldly on the political issues of the day.
John Witherspoon, for example, was one of America’s most famous ministers – he published entire volumes of Gospel sermons. However, he also was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a ratifier of the U.S. Constitution and served on over 100 committees in Congress (wallbuilders.com).
Historian David Barton reminds us of numerous times throughout scripture where God called on His people to confront the rulers of the day.
- Elijah confronted civil leaders Ahab and Queen Jezebel over issues such as their unjust use of eminent domain, religious persecution, and subornation of perjury (1 Kings 21:1-24, 1 Kings 18:18).
- Isaiah confronted civil ruler Hezekiah over national security failures and issues related to the treasury (1 Chronicles 32:27-31, 2 Kings 20:12-19)
- Nathan confronted civil leader David over his wicked moral policies and practices (2 Samuel 12)
- Eliezer and Jehu confronted King Jehoshaphat over his blunders in foreign relations and ill-advised foreign alliances (2 Chronicles 19:1-2, 2 Chronicles 20:35-37)
And the list goes on! This is why faith leaders across the country are praying for this Amendment to be abolished. And President Trump made this a fundamental campaign promise.
The Conference Committee
House speaker, Paul Ryan and House minority leader Nancy Pelosi named the House conference committee members.
- The 9 Republicans include Rep. Kevin Brady (R., TX), Peter Roskam, Devin Nunes, Diane Black and Kristi Noem. Rob Bishop (R., Utah), Don Young (R., Alaska), Greg Walden (R., Ore.) and John Shimkus (R., Ill), and
- The 5 Democrats include Rep Richard Neal (D., Mass), Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.), Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas), Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) and Kathy Castor (D., Fla.).
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell named the conference committee.
- The 8 Republicans include Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah), Sen. Mike Enzi (R., WY), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), Sen. John Cornyn (R., TX), Sen. John Thune (R., SD), Sen. Rob Portman (R., OH), Sen Tim Scott (R., SC), and Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Penn), and
- The 7 Democrats include Sen. Ron Wyden (D., OR), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D., VT), Sen. Patty Murray (D., WA), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., WA), Sen Debbie Stabenow (D., MI), Sen. Robert Menendez (D., NJ), and Sen. Tom Carper (D., DE).
Rep. Kevin Brady will lead the conference.
Once the conference concludes its work on the bill, the conference report must receive a signature of support by a majority of the House and Senate committee members. The final bill is then voted on by both the House and the Senate before being sent to the President’s desk.
Take a stand now by sending a note to the conference committee members urging them to keep the Johnson Amendment in the bill! Our tool makes this easy and fast. It really is!
We cannot miss this opportunity to return to our Judeo-Christian founding where ministers were not silenced or forced to take a back seat to society’s issues. Instead, it was the ministers who led.
By reversing the Johnson Amendment, Pastors will be able to exercise their First Amendment Rights once again without fear and to boldly apply Biblical principles to the political sphere – something our nation and our world desperately need.
We must stand united on this amendment if we hope to see America stand strong for God.
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My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.