Trump is Right: Repeal the Johnson Amendment That Muzzles Pastors

Lyndon B. Johnson and Donald Trump

By Deacon Keith Fournier Published on July 20, 2016

I was one of a small group of Catholics in attendance at the “Conversation About America’s Future” on June 21, 2016, which featured Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson. Most of the 1,000 people in attendance were evangelical and charismatic Protestants. I was honored to have been invited and I am very glad I attended.

Trump addressed with conviction and clarity the threats to the free exercise and free speech rights of the Christian church. He pledged to defend those rights if elected President of the United States — and getting specific, he called for the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. Let me explain why repealing that bad law is so important.

On July 2, 1954, an ambitious U.S. Senator named Lyndon Johnson offered an amendment to an overhaul intended to “modernize” the Tax Code of the United States. It passed. The Johnson Amendment “absolutely prohibits” 501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office” or making “contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position.”

The Johnson Amendment makes exceptions for “certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner … voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives,” provided they do not favor or oppose some candidate or group of candidates.

Sounds reasonable, right? In fact, the Johnson amendment has proven to be a dangerous tool, allowing political appointees at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine when moral issues become political issues — and effectively censor churches and religious organizations with the threat of crippling penalties and loss of tax exempt status.

The IRS is the sole interpreter of ambiguous phrases in the law’s provisions. For example, the law “allows” voter registration and education drives. But what constitutes “evidence of bias” and “favoring a candidate”? Who decides? Whomever the current president has appointed head of the IRS will make the final call. How much scrutiny do you think that urban churches like that of Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Obama’s old pastor) came under over the past eight years? Remember how Obama’s IRS aggressively targeted Tea Party groups for audits. Was the IRS fair to morally conservative churches? I can tell you from first-hand experience: it was not.

In practice, the Johnson Amendment discards the Constitutional presumption of innocence. If the IRS accuses a church or religious organization of crossing the line, it can lose its exemption immediately and be subject to punitive fines, while it tries to prove its innocence — bearing the burden of proof, instead of its accusers bearing it. This exerts a chilling effect on churches who are not aligned with the political priorities of whoever is currently President.

The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights begins, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Johnson Amendment makes a mockery of that language, coming closer to the mere hour-a-week-on-Sunday “freedom of worship” that President Obama has often spoken of rather than the actual words of our Constitution.

“Free exercise” includes engaging in commerce, participating in politics and pursuing liberty and happiness as a full participant in the American polity. The Free Exercise right was meant to protect citizens’ deeply held moral and religious beliefs, even outside the walls of their places of worship. It was also meant to give the church a robust freedom to influence and serve the common good. It was never meant to empower the government to censor the church or restrict its participation. If it had, the churches could not have led the fight against slavery in the 1840s, eugenics in the 1920s or segregation in the 1950s and ’60s. Had the Johnson Amendment been in place during those decades, and read to their advantage by political appointees, we would live in a much bleaker, less human country today.

We have accepted the secular supremacist spin used to interpret our founding documents by progressives like Harvard Professor Mark Tushnet, who sees orthodox Christians as the moral equivalent of the defeated Nazis and Japanese — discredited losers who must be crushed without mercy or respite. It is people with views like Tushnet’s who end up on our nation’s highest courts. And we let them beat us down. We numbly accept the notion that a bloated agency of the federal government, drunk with free-flowing power, is the arbiter of interpreting my religious freedoms and yours. That was not what our nation’s founders intended.

There was no Internal Revenue Service when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were drafted. Christian leaders, pastors, ministers, priests and public servants were welcomed and honored for the most part. Their message and participation were both seen as serving the common good.

Using the Johnson Amendment, the IRS often seeks to censor Christian claims that the right to life, as well as natural marriage between one man and one woman, are both written in the “laws of nature and of nature’s God,” and so should be recognized in the civil law. They exclude such positions as “religious.” They rule them out as unfit for public display and try to silence their advocates when they can.

The government’s agents increasingly come into our churches, organizations and institutions, claiming that our obligation as faithful Christians to address the major moral issues of our age from our pulpits amounts to “political” activity. Then they threaten to revoke our tax exempt status. Will they soon insist that we may not preach or teach either?

There is a difference between a non-sectarian state which welcomes all religious expressions, or none at all, and Secularism, an anti-religious approach to governance invented during the French Revolution, which seeks to discriminate against Christians. The contributions of Christianity, such as its insistence on the inviolable dignity of every human person as the Image of God, have set whole nations free. It was Christians organizing peacefully in groups like Solidarity that helped bring down the Berlin Wall. Christianity taught the world that slavery is wrong and genocides cannot be justified. It must and will not be silenced by political hacks or tax wonks.

The church must be free to speak from her pulpits and in the public square. The Johnson Amendment is a gag order backed by the guns and jails of the state, which threatens that churches which step out of line will have their savings confiscated and their leaders crippled by fines. As a member of the Catholic Clergy and a constitutional lawyer, I have seen this Amendment abused. In the hands of a president like Hillary Clinton it would be even more dangerous.

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  • davidrev17

    “Section 508(c)(1)(A) [‘Free Churches’] states that “churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches” are a mandatory exception to section 501(c)(3) [‘State Churches’], they are already tax exempt without notifying or applying to the government under section 501(c)(3). Churches receive the same tax exempt status and benefits as a 501(c)(3) organization, without the partnership with the government. We do not have to lose our voice!” (See also: “IRS Publication” 526 & 557)

    — “New Vision Ministries”/Blog, “508(c)(1)(A) Free Church vs. 501(c)(3) State Church.”

    * * *

    Now Mr. Fournier, as a highly “ignorant and UNlearned” [Acts 4:13] layperson, I sure hope you don’t mind my introducing [just above] a critically relevant, yet nonetheless conspicuously absent issue within the body of your article; especially since you’re a self-professed “member of the Catholic Clergy and a Constitutional lawyer” – namely an individual of whom one would think, should clearly know better?

    I find your biblical ignorance in this area, as well as the leadership throughout America’s professing “Churches” too, by the way – not to mention your apparent lethargy?, or perhaps just plain oversight in constitutional law, as it specifically relates to the IRS’ official view of 508(c)(1)(A) “Free Churches” & 501(c)(3) “State Churches” – to be tragically abhorrent sir…in no uncertain terms either.

    The Church itself, in this country, is absolutely to blame [before Almighty God], for having willfully, or freely entered into these “501(c)(3)” contracts with the “god of this world,” i.e., Lucifer himself; whereby these church organizations have both individually and corporately been complicit in bowing-the-knee to Caesar through state incorporation – thus “choosing” to become fearful and silent spiritual chameleons, subsequent to their becoming formally incorporated “creations of the state.”

    Yet this almost mind-numbing decision in non-discernment to essentially “fall on our own sword,” as “Ambassadors for Christ” here in the U.S. – when becoming 501(c)(3) this-worldly entities – appears to be the primary culprit in charting the very course for OUR own eventual demise, or descent into comprehensive irrelevance, in what’s now clearly become post-Christian America, ever since we effectively “sold [our] birthright” to Caesar, through and by our idolatrous submission to the “Johnson Amendment.”

    And the hard, empirical evidence in support of that sweeping indictment against the Church in general, throughout this country, should be manifestly clear to just about any disinterested observer as well. It’s currently believed that “some 90%” of churches, denominations and/or religious organizations in the U.S., are of the willfully complicit, [Luciferian-originated] “501(c)(3)” kind.

    “Salt and light?” Preserving righteousness in our country? Just how in heaven’s name are we supposed to fulfill this perpetually elusive, though unambiguous biblical command here in America, when we’ve allowed ourselves to become “yoked” together with Caesar in spiritual enterprise (e.g., 2 Corinthians 6:14-18); as opposed to living-out our Christian responsibilities in this life – since “our citizenship is in heaven” anyway (Phil. 3:20) – while actually/spiritually “yoked” to our Lord & Master as “bondslaves” [Greek = “doulos”] of Jesus, the Messiah? (See Matthew 11:28-30)

    “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold [fast] to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

    WHOLESALE REPENTANCE is in order, for the people of God in this country; so “come out from among them,” and “DEcorporatize” yourselves, from the hellish 501(c)(3) “State Church” status, to the 508(c)(1)(A) “Free Church” designation.

    After all, “rendering to Caesar” in this 501(c)(3) manner – or tragically bowing-the-corporate-knee to our federal government – NEVER has been a First Amendment, thus Constitutional requirement OF Caesar, during the last two-hundred-plus years, or so!

    • Deacon Keith Fournier

      Sorry. You don’t get it. Of course wholesale repentance is in order. But, the Christian Church is facing groeing hostility in this Nation. We cannot withdraw from the culture. We have the message of true freedom. We must proclaim it.
      You can rant about whether you think the Church is fitting your standards. I will pray for you. But, in the meantime, as a Catholic Christian, I will join with Protestant, Evangelical and Orthodox Christians to share the Good News of Freedom in Jesus. And, I will fight against every law which seems to shut the Church up.
      Deacon Keith Fournier

      • Kën Shrëk

        Shout it from the Megachurches

        • Chip Crawford

          As opposed to Mega-government ?

      • davidrev17

        Keith:

        It’s been widely observed for a few centuries now, that “Facts are stubborn things…” So this existential truism in H$®o sapiens’ reality, must strongly infer, or indicate, just why you totally avoided engaging any of the “facts,” of which I’d both meticulously and dispassionately detailed? (“rant”??)

        I mean, did you even read my post brother; because your utterly futile exercise in ad hominem sophistry, bore a striking resemblance to one providing some sort of a misguided (or wrongheaded), emotionally charged opinion – for whatever reason you’d chosen? Why couldn’t you have just remained “on point?”

        Why don’t you read my post again Keith, very carefully (when you have the time), then read yours; and see if you can recognize the obvious incongruence your opinionated response contained re: the factually specific “theme” I’d given? The very quotation from the “IRS Code” itself, I stated at the outset, should’ve given you some sense about where I was headed in my somewhat lengthy post.

        Mr. Fournier, because you’re in the unique position of being a Catholic Clergyman, and a Constitutional attorney, I’d hoped we could’ve engaged in some robust dialogue concerning this abominably idolatrous activity that’s taken place for several decades now, amongst the professing people of God here in America.

        And this can only mean, OUR bowing-the-corporate-knee of submission to Caesar, in this particularly egregious area of human sin & folly; aka Christian “churches,” or denominational congregations, choosing to FREELY and/or willfully (not to mention unnecessarily) entering into these 501(c)(3) “Johnson Amendment” contracts with the “god of this world” – thus becoming formally incorporated “creations of the state” in the process – when the only biblically, thus Heavenly appropriate recourse WE have for our Christian churches throughout the U.S., is to “DEcorporatize” (in genuine repentance), and begin identifying with the IRS’ longstanding 508(c)(1)(A) “Free Church” designation.

        And one last observation: your final statement that, “I will fight against every law which seeks to shut the Church up,” isn’t even “ballpark close” to capturing the historical, thus New Testament biblical reality of what Orthodox Christianity has maintained the last two-millennia – beginning with the words of our Lord Yeshua, the Messiah. (BTW: have you ever read, or even thumbed-through, “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”?)

        I encourage you to “search the [Holy] Scriptures” – from Matthew 1:1-to-Revelation 22:21 – to see if you encounter one single reference, from ANY biblical writer (or Apostle), of which even remotely suggests your personal approach to living the Christian life, here in 21st-century, “post-Christian” God Bless America; while bearing in mind, that those earliest followers of Jesus – of whom the accusation about their “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6), had consistently been evident through their dedicated/sold-out lives of sacrificial service & martyrdom – were actually glorifying God, and indefatigably advancing His Kingdom in the known world of that day – while concurrently living under the “yoke” of slavery, within probably one of the most brutally oppressive regimes in the history of mankind.

        Have you ever considered that your personal crusade of “fighting against the laws of Caesar,” just might be tantamount to “fighting against God” Himself?? (e.g., Acts 5:35-42)

        No matter how brutal, intolerable, or even tyrannically Hitlerian that Caesar can become upon this planet, our jobs as His “Ambassadors,” unyieldingly remain the same, my brother; a very unsettling fact (for we modern, overly sophisticated & urbane believers) of which is profoundly illustrated in the following biblical text:

        * * *

        “And when they [the Sanhedrin] had brought them [the apostles], they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly
        charged you not to teach in this name [Yeshua/Jesus]; yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

        “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Ruler and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him…So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” (See entire, precisely relevant context – Acts 5:17-42 – esp. vv.28-29.)

        • Deacon John Berstecher

          Wow. I agree with you on one point: we need to re-read your post (rant IS more like it) to comprehend – what are you babbling about?

          • davidrev17

            For you to even ask such a question, when the issue is so plainly spelled-out in both of my posts to Mr. Fournier, speaks volumes as to not only just how clueless, or devoid of understanding you are where this issue is concerned; but also the “some 90%” (to date) of professing Christian congregations throughout this country, who’ve become these idolatrous 501(c)(3) “creatures of the state” ever since 1954 – in the Holy Name of the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” no less.

            And please notice, if you will, the seeming causal correlation between this wholesale 501(c)(3) compromise – on the part of so-called “Christian churches,” subsequent to the formal adoption of the Johnson Amendment – and the almost pervasive lack of the Church’s power, influence, and presence throughout American society ever since; not to mention the fact that WE’VE become virtually indistinguishable from the “world,” for the most part, during the last several decades.

            And I’m supposed to believe that you & Deacon Fournier can’t discern, or “see” these things in our midst?

            “Facts are stubborn things…”

          • Deacon John Berstecher

            Certainly I cannot speak for Deacon Fournier (not a “Mr.” by the way. I am though reasonably sure that he does “see” these things. So do I.
            You are mixing too many points. We can go back and forth for days if not weeks regarding the weakness of the Universal Church. I do not believe that is his (or mine) point. It is the government’s use of tax law to interfere with the rights of the Church, and therefore the People. The People are the Church. Not some Pastor or Bishop or Rome.
            The Church has always spoken about the culture of the day. Always. But it has been muzzled for 60+ years. Never the intention of the Founding Fathers. Tax status is irrelevant to that conversation.

          • davidrev17

            “Tax status is irrelevant to that conversation,” you so errantly suggest? You couldn’t possibly be any more misinformed, in your clearly wrongheaded statement sir; because the potential loss of their 501(c)(3) “State Church” [Tax status], is precisely/causally related to all of this whining of late – on the part of the Church – as seen through this series of articles on “The Stream,” where the Johnson Amendment is concerned.

            The Church has ALWAYS possessed the constitutionally recognized “non-taxable” designation in the U.S. – can you say IRS’ current 508(c)(1)(A) “Free Church” status – that is, until they “sold their birthright for a bowl of [Caesar’s] stew,” by voluntarily CHOOSING to become “State Church” corporations.

            And Keith Fournier, as a Constitutional attorney, would seemingly be aware of this sound constitutional revelation, or interpretation, due to his association with the ACLJ back in the 90’s (I believe); when Jay Sekulow and Colby May [“arguing the cause for appellants”] had their proverbial heads-handed-to-them, on the losing side of a clearly relevant, and no doubt applicable (2000) decision – BRANCH MINISTRIES v. ROSSOTTI – argued before the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

            (Also in the same context: see Erik W. Stanley’s [2011-2012] Regent Law Review Article, “LBJ, THE IRS, AND CHURCHES: THE UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE JOHNSON AMENDMENT IN LIGHT OF RECENT SUPREME COURT PRECEDENT.”)

            However, it’s patently obvious to even Mr. Stanley, that until SCOTUS declares it to be unconstitutional, the Johnson Amendment, with its renowned 501(c)(3) strictures and/or requirements – of which ALL “Christian Churches” are clearly aware, prior to their agreement to ABIDE (as state corporations) by these odiously unacceptable demands – is still the “law of the land.”

            So contra your strangely myopic, and wholly out-of-context opinion in this matter: the Church has legally “muzzled itself” for “60+years” in this country, through its freely and/or willfully – not to mention idolatrously – entering into these contracts with Caesar to become state corporations (i.e., “creatures of the state”); thus having legally relinquished any-and-all First Amendment/Free Exercise protection, or safe-haven, from the moment these pastors et al. in their respective congregations, sign these state-contracts of Caesar’s devising…on the dotted-line. Hmmm…

            And all of this has taken place for the last “60+years” – without so much as the slightest bit of governmental, or state-sponsored “arm-twisting” having taken place – or no gun being held to their [the Churches] heads either!

            So please tell me, from a solid biblical perspective too John: in view of these irrefutable facts, just how is it, that the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” – i.e., the “Holy One of Israel” – could possibly find such wholesale idolatry & cowardice on the part of His people, the professing Church, in any sort of favorable “light”?? I do look forward to yours & Keith’s sound biblical and/or legal response.

          • Deacon John Berstecher

            I doubt any answer I would give will be satisfactory. You are too much wrapped up in making points, that I feel you cannot see outside them. Some may be valid; others clearly not.

            Many did not have any issue with the LBJ amendment, as they though as many do today that the Church should not be telling people who to vote for. Long history as we know as the Church (all denominations) have for centuries told people what to do. Today we tell people what they should do, and why. It is up to them what they do. Jesus did it the same way. Do this, why, and the consequences.

            The amendment was/is unconstitutional as it is applied. This happens more frequently today as they are (as the name implies) tacked on to other legislation, and get thru as we know without fanfare. But how it is applied today (or not) brings it more out into the open sphere. People can now see. If you speak out against a government policy, it will smack you down. The main purpose of the 1st Amendment was to allow opposition to the government without fear of persecution, arrest or jail. The government has done it thru tax applications.

            All these Statutes that you keep quoting do is codify a status that really has existed for some time. Sadly some have abused it – on both sides of the issue. Mega-Church Pastors have gotten rich. The Church continues to do what it has always done: help the poor in some way. That is one reason it is not taxed, as the money goes where it is supposed to-not the government bureaucracy.

            The Church is not a subsidiary of the government. The corporate status is simply as legal state.

      • Deacon John Berstecher

        Thank you. I was just getting ready to comment. No need -yet.

  • John

    FDR & LBJ policies including the so called civil rights act are a TOTAL FAIL.

    Land is Getting Healed!
    2 Chronicles 7: 14 to 15 KJV

  • bbb

    Yes. What davidrev17 said.

  • Beau Lovey

    If churches want to repeal the Johnson Amendment and get involved in endorsing or working against specific candidates the churches should pay taxes. The people in churches already have a voice. Churches are not people. You had better be very careful about what you ask for as there are many people that see the tax free ride churches enjoy as unfair. If we tax churches we would have zero debt. Think about that.

    • Chip Crawford

      Best I heard it is Trump who wants to repeal the Johnson Amendment. So how much should we be concerned about how “people” seeing the “free ride” churches have with taxes to be unfair. You and these “people” need some serious stats on church programs worldwide, but especially in the US. True welfare, successful programs taking care of their own financially, as well as their communities. Church benevolence and support each year, especially in crisis, is massive.

      Zero debt is not likely to occur with the tax and spend Dems – never has. They can’t seem to be satisfied with the current gouge, but borrow ahead for it. It’s more and more handled the same way. You might become a little more informed with various Republican administrations, like Mike Pence’s to name only one of many Republican success stories, along with the issue of churches’ massive input into the system and think about that.

    • Deacon John Berstecher

      Really? Zero debt? How much money do you think the government would get from taxing churches? Long before our Republic was founded, the perception of tax exemptions existed for all charities, even before our tax code took form after 1894. It is not just churches. Hospitals, schools, etc etc are exempt. The main purpose/reasoning was their charitable work for the public good, and during the 1st 100 years, the preference was the church, related institutions to do so, not the government. People were still skeptical in those days.
      Personally, I do have some issues. But that is because the system was/is abused. Something that was to be prevented but obviously not.

  • Chip Crawford

    Good article, Deacon. No dollar amount can be put on what a real church invests in the fabric and well-being of a community, a nation. May their eyes be opened and lives enhanced to the rich and eternally priceless benefits available.

    • OkinKun

      I’m not ok with your religion having any influence on our politics..
      For example: Are you ok with Muslim Mosques getting involved in our politics? Careful what doors you open..

      • matthewcoons

        I have no problem with the government opening the door marked “respecting the First Amendment.”

        • OkinKun

          That’s not what this is about, they’re just fooling you into thinking it is.

      • Jeff Price

        And you think Muslim mosques are NOT involved already?

        • OkinKun

          Not in the way that ending this law would allow. People’s religions have no business endorsing/telling them how to think in Politics.. Because more often than not, the kind of people who feel the need to tell you, are doing it for the wrong reasons.

          • Jeff Price

            As I said to someone else here, before the Johnson Amendment, the ability to speak freely was the legal, cultural, and social norm until LBJ unconstitutionally gagged the churches.

          • OkinKun

            It takes away no one’s rights… People eventually realized that religious institutions, especially ones that want to be tax exempt, have no business poking into politics. And that makes sense, in the same way that separation of church and state makes sense. Ending this regulation, would be a direct encouragement of the opposite.. and I do not want other people’s religions doing, in relation to our country’s politics.

          • Daryl Lynch

            Why does it make sense ? Is this true of all tax exempt institutions ?

          • davidrev17

            “LBJ unconstitutionally gagged the churches” Jeff?

            First off, the Johnson Amendment has yet to have been declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS – and there are ZERO cases at the lower federal appellate level with such implications either – so let’s get that straight. It’s still the law-of-the-land.

            Secondly, there was absolutely NO government/state-sponsored “arm twisting” (i.e., duress, threats, undue influence etc.) that had taken place against any Christian churches throughout this country, since 1954; churches representatives, of whom were willfully & freely choosing to become these abominable 501 (c)(3) state corporations, or “creatures of the state.” Nor was there the proverbial “gun” held to anyone’s head, to encourage this wholly idolatrous marriage with Caesar.

            We the Church in this United States, have factually – not to mention unwittingly – wound-up ultimately muzzling and/or gagging ourselves, in pure cowardice, greed, and idolatry; by our corporately & individually bowing-the-knee to Caesar, throughout the process of our gobbling-up the insidiously disguised promises of the “golden calf” (aka the Johnson Amendment) – hook, line, and sinker!

            We have no one to blame but ourselves, for this present spiritual malaise (and wholesale compromise) by the Church, here in God Bless America. And we need to stop all this whining too, and playing the blame-game; when our only option at this juncture is wholesale repentance – namely seeking to become what the Church in America has always been from a Constitutional perspective – i.e., the 508 (c)(1)(A) “Free Church” designation!

  • OkinKun

    That’s a terrible idea! There are VERY GOOD REASONS for these kinds of restrictions. How stupid are trump supporters becoming, did they learn nothing in history?

    Lets put this another way they can understand.. How would you feel if Mosques all over America start getting involved with our political system? Because that’s what you’d be allowing, that’s what Trump is saying he wants to do here.

    Use your heads people. Trump is just as big a self-serving lying corrupt jerk, who does NOT actually care about this country, he just wants to further his career/publicity.

    • matthewcoons

      I’d feel fine because that means the government is respecting the First Amendment

      • John Michael

        Up until the republicans manage to pass a law respecting the establishment of Christianity…then all bets are off

    • Deacon John Berstecher

      I think we do understand. I’m not so sure you do. Trump’s concern is the freedom of speech issues. Churches cannot speak out against anything.He is not advocating they get involved in politics. But, go back to history class. They were for some time during the early years forward.
      I may not agree with Trump, but clearly he cares. Why, please tell me nicely now, why would he bother with all this? To further his career? Really? Like, does he need to do this? Publicity? He is Donald Trump. Needs no publicity.

  • Dusty Clayton

    Repeal the Johnson Admendment? Sure! But for churches to play the game of politics, they must be taxed. Sounds reasonable to me. That will shutter over half the nation’s churches, and may drive America to a brighter, more intelligent future.

    • biilyjoe

      No one has been taxing the black churches for their non-stop POLITICKING for 60 plus years– THE BLACK CHURCHES OWE THE REST OF US PLENTY OF BACK MONEY –RIGHT ???

  • Jeff Price

    There are two problems with the Johnson Amendment:

    1) It exists.
    2) It
    is not applied even-handedly or objectively.

    I know many churches where
    they endorse candidates with nary a peep (usually a Democrat they
    endorse) but the same type of behavior warrants sanction when a
    conservative or Republican is mentioned. Also, the key to the article (to me) is
    the fact that the IRS gets to decide when an issue moves from the moral arena
    to the political. I find it telling that the people who do not want to
    repeal the Johnson Amendment feel more threatened by the free speech of
    churches than they do the prohibition of speech by the government.

    • Deacon John Berstecher

      BINGO!! We see a lot of that around here, even where so called “black churches” have Democratic candidates speak to their congregation. Not conservatives or Republicans. Oh no. Can’t let that happen.
      I don’t think they should tell you who to vote for, but certainly they can make a strong moral case when they “suggest.”

      • Jeff Price

        See, therein lies my point. I think black churches SHOULD have the right to endorse whomever they wish, along with white churches, mixed churches, synagogues, whatever. That WAS the legal, cultural, and social norm until LBJ unconstitutionally gagged the churches.

        • Deacon John Berstecher

          BINGO!! again! Yep, I agree.Even more so today. LBJ may have started it, but now they would fight tooth and nail, to keep it.

    • GilGordon

      Have any actual proof of your claims? Not the usual “someone told me” or “I read it on the internet” or “I know, personally”!

      And nothing from conservative or liberal media…since both have questionable integrity!

      Thank you.

      • Jeff Price

        Asks for proof, and then takes away basically any way of giving proof…

  • Manny Olivas

    too much crap….a Gov By the People and For The People is what was intended long ago…why is Gov so big now! Does a Big Gov make America Great?

  • Syler Cider

    The author doesn’t actually know what the Johnson Amendment prohibits.

    Churches are legally able to protest slavery, segregation, eugenics or any other policy/issue. What they can’t do is support one candidate over another.

    • biilyjoe

      Well black churches and ministers ARE
      Black Pastors Step Up for Hillary Clinton
      Elizabeth Dias / Philadelphia @elizabethjdias July 28, 2016
      They want to stop the Trump pastors from defining the narrative

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      Trump’s Top Pastor
      One of the most visible pastors supporting Donald Trump comes from the most unlikely of places: the small town of Easley, South Carolina. Trump’s candidacy has thrust televangelist Mark Burns into the national political spotlight for the first time.
      The front row of a box suite in Wells Fargo Arena was lined with big names of African-American preaching Wednesday night, as pastors waited together to hear President Obama speak at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

      As they cheered for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, sang along with “What the World Needs Now is Love” and waved their “Joe” and “Yes We Can” signs, their discussion turned serious. A handful of African-American preachers who support Donald Trump, including Darrell Scott and Mark Burns, they say, have managed to dominate the political and spiritual narrative for African-Americans this presidential cycle—even though many of them repeatedly have spoken out for Clinton. And they want that to change.
      Bishop Greg Davis from Michigan is an evangelist whose shows are featured on the Word Network, the largest network for African-American religious media, which he says is in 90 million homes in 200 countries. He says the handful of black pastors supporting Trump are organized in a way pastors supporting Clinton are not yet. Davis says he has mentored Burns and used to even be on Scott’s radio show daily, but he does not understand how Scott and Burns do not challenge Trump to say that black lives matter. Democrats in Philadelphia, Davis says, have given “more hope in one night than all last week” in Cleveland. “They are really organized,” he says, but “they don’t see the racist venom that he spews out.” That is prompting him to act as the general election approaches: “It’s a late start, and I’m going to help with all I can.”

      Bishop Corletta Vaughn, of Holy Ghost Cathedral in Detroit and reality star on Preachers of Detroit—a pastor who answers her phone with a cheerful “Praise the Lord”—wants to help Clinton push faith leaders, and especially women of faith, to the forefront. Vaughn was one of about fifty black pastors to meet privately with Clinton in January, and she was also one of 28 black ministers who pledged support to Clinton soon after. That move came after “the fiasco,”

  • Syler Cider

    Who wants to go to church and be told to vote for this candidate over this other candidate?

    Churches have not thought this through. If churches successfully did away with the Johnson Amendment, then you’d probably see an even larger exit of church goers, especially from the younger generations.

    Go ahead, get rid of the amendment… it will mean certain death for any church that starts being a front for the RNC or the DNC.

    • biilyjoe

      They’ve been doing politics in black churches for well over half-century—even Trump was forced to go politicking in black churches. WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM ??

      • Syler Cider

        billyjoe, you do understand that a church can say all it wants about a particular law, amendment, proposition, right? But, they can NOT endorse a particular candidate.
        See the difference?

  • pat10

    Quote…”The church must be free to speak from her pulpits and in the public square.”
    Hey “Deacon”, read your Bible-Matthew 6:5,6.
    I would think a so-called man of the cloth would know this passage.
    Politics have NO business in our churches, just like ‘pedophiles’ have No business in our churches or Anywhere!
    Stick to your duties of serving God & quit trying to be God. Clean up your house first.

    • pat10

      Maybe we should revoke all churches tax exemptions, then you can twist peoples minds as much as you want.

      • Carolingian

        Look at this demon screech like the priest just sprinkled it with Holy Water. lmao

        Go Trump!

    • biilyjoe

      STOP your anti-Christian/anti-Catholic bigotry. Why are black ministers like embezzlers Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton even allowed to run for president?? Black churches everywhere in America have been violating this law for over half a century AND GETTING AWAY WITH IT ! Why aren’t you bringing that up ! You are a bigot—and certainly a racist !
      Thank God for Trump !

  • biilyjoe

    It is long OVERDUE . This Amendment is aimed directly at Catholics and Evangelicals directly today–white Christian Churches intimidated by the Democrat Party and its anti-Christian, anti-Catholic leadership since LBJ bought the black vote with stolen taxpayers’ money and enabled the naacp/aclu to take control—to the point where nearly every black church not only brings politrics and politicians into their churches to energize the black vote to vote 96 % AND GET AWAY WITH IT regardless of the LAW but takes it a step further–even running so-called ministers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton–embezzlers for president. The Johnson Amendment today is used for one thing only: intimidation and tie up the political hands/rights of Catholic, Evangelical, and other white churches and their congregants—likely 60 % of our entire electorate.

    • John Michael

      Its aimed at catholics and Evangelicals because they NEVER SHUT THEIR MOUTHS!

    • Pharilda Galloway

      Keep in mind that this works both ways. I live in a very liberal state in New England. My Pastor is a Progressive as are many in the state – and for that matter in New England. As a Conservative I really don’t want to be subjected to liberal nonsense in church. The law should stay as it is. No politics in church.

      • biilyjoe

        The problem with that is that the Left has enabled the left wing religious leaders–and they’ve been ‘out the gate’ since the 1960’s– you had Father Drinan in Congress from your state back then–and look at this pope–left wing marxist controlled Jesuit—WHO STROLLED RIGHT INTO CONGRESS– totally unheard of by any Catholic Prelate , Cardinal, bishop or otherwise since the beginnings of our nation. We have to enable the right–the left loons have controlled what’s allowed to go on subliminally for 60 years. One person, Madlyn Murray O’Hare, took Bible Reading out of the public schools in 1962–when we had had 3 centuries of it. I disagree—we need to ‘level the playing field’ . No politics in church ?/ Did you tell that to all the politicians and the black ministers who’ve been meeting in black churches –likely since Abraham Lincoln called them together at end of Civil War ?

  • John Michael

    Religion must never be allowed to have any say in the legislative process. Christianity is obsolete and has no place in a 21st century society. Im not saying religion should be outlawed, just that it should be regarded like the crazy aunt that everyone has in their family…. Tolerated, but not given any credence

    • Rudy Poglitsh

      Mr. Michael, had William Wilberforce (a devout Christian) not been involved in the legislative process, England would still have slavery. Had the Quakers in this country kept their religion out of the legislative process, you might still be living in a society that allowed and enforced slavery. Were it not for Pope John Paul II in the late 1970s and 1980s and his ringing proclamation of human and religious freedom, Eastern Europe might still be languishing behind the Iron Curtain. It’s tremendously myopic and hypocritical of people living in countries which owe their freedom to the religious underpinnings of the founders of that country to say the kinds of things you do. But, if you really feel that way, you’re free to emigrate to a state where religion has no say in the legislative process. Feel like moving to North Korea, Mr. Michael? Do you really want to live there?

      • IndianaWilcox

        It’s also just fine for scientologists to sway their followers to influence politics. We have these rights as individuals. Churches and superpacs are NOT people. That’w what the separation of church and state is all about. I can believe whatever I want and tell you about it endlessly. What I can’t do is use my unfair advantage as a tax exempt entity to gather money which my followers can deduct from their stated income in order to pass laws with philosophical (not just ethical) dictates that you may or may not believe in. For example. Make prayer a mandatory part of the daily regimen in your parochial school! Excellent. But not in ‘our’ public schools. You want prayer FORCED on atheist kids or buhddist kids etc. I don’t.

      • Russ Farnsworth

        The religious underpinnings of our Founders were barely more than mere coincidence. They happened to be Christians but they also understood that religion was not to be mixed with politics and government. Also, North Korea is not a religion-less state. Kim Jong Un is their deity. It is another example of religion run amok.

  • Christopher Stiles

    Just be honest here, deacon–you want to have your cake and eat it, too. You want political influence AND tax exempt status. Not buying your spin about the IRS using it to target churches. You can have all the influence you want–just pay taxes like everybody else.

    • Russ Farnsworth

      Damn straight! And repealing the Johnson Amendment will mean that the oligarchs that buy our politicians every election, will now get tax breaks for doing so. It is the most retarded action Trump could take and his idiot supporters are cheering him on because they are too stupid to understand what they are doing to our democracy. They don’t care about democracy, they just want to suck Trump off. It is disgusting. Citizens are supposed to hold politicians to account, not open the treasury for them to loot!

  • Russ Farnsworth

    Repealing the Johnson Amendment means that the oligarchs that buy our politicians every election will now get a tax break for doing so. THIS IS STUPID.

  • dcwc16

    Unions are non profit and they have unlimited speech in support of politics and the dues paying members of the union get to deduct political contributions from their income taxes claiming them as dues. Not so Churches who are threatened not for political contributions rather just speech. UnConstitutional In any event. Try deducting political contributions from your taxes like unions and see how far you get. Hopefully the deductions for Union due are going away and forced union membership done away with soon.

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