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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

What is it?

This bill would repeal the tax code’s prohibition against churches and other tax-exempt organizations participating in political campaigns or opposing candidates for public office that was imposed by the 1954 Johnson Amendment. It would apply to taxable years ending after this bill’s enactment, and wouldn’t invalidate or limit any provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

Impact

Churches and other tax-exempt groups; political campaigns; and the IRS.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) has been a longtime opponent of the Johnson Amendment, and has introduced legislation that would let churches and tax-exempt groups engage in political activities while remaining tax exempt since 2001. Jones feels “it’s kind of like big brother, listening to what the minister, or priest or rabbi might be saying” and believes his bill would “return freedom of speech to our nation’s houses of worship so that they may speak out on issues of the day without fear of reprisal from the IRS.”

Public Citizen produced a report detailing its opposition to efforts to undermine the Johnson Amendment, saying that it should remain in place to “protect against further erosion of our campaign finance system and to protect the integrity of our charitable and religious sectors.

This legislation has the support of one cosponsor in the House, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC).


Of NotePresident Donald Trump said in a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast that he will “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, and took executive action to prevent the federal government from punishing churches for expressing political views.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Diliff / Creative Commons)

Official Title

To restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations by repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.

    Taxation is not a prerequisite for free speech. It is not a privilege purchased from government, but rather is a natural right. Make all groups, organizations, and individuals tax-exempt, and let them say whatever they want. It is a false tradeoff that you EITHER don't pay taxes OR can say whatever you want, as if paying taxes purchases your right to free speech. Simply false. You have a right to your speech AND you have a right to your property. Freedom of speech is not bestowed by government in exchange for being a tax payer - it is a natural right that is protected FROM government BY the Constitution. That goes for you as an individual, that goes for businesses, that goes for nonprofits, and that goes for religious organizations. Voting no means replacing the right to free speech with a tax-dependent privilege of free speech. Vote yes if you're not a tyrant.
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    We need to protect the separation of church and state! Keep church influence out of politics. We also need to protect each citizen's religious freedom; the politicians trying to push this bill are the same who flip out over sharia law. No one should have to ever live under someone else's religion or be subjected to someone else's beliefs.
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    An impenetrable wall needs to be built between Church and State. The human race has already lived through a time when the Church ruled- it was called the Dark Ages!!!
    Like (368)
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    No. This is not what churches are for and it would violate The Establishment Clause. Vote against further attempts to erode the First Amendment.
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    You should not be tax exempt if you engage in politicking.
    Like (209)
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    Separation of church and state.
    Like (150)
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    Pay taxes and speak your mind or remain exempt from taxes and remain silent. Trade offs.
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    This bill isn't about "free speech," it's about religious groups "engaging in political activities." This is dangerous because it paves the way for a religion-sponsored state, which is only a few steps removed from a state-sponsored religion; something our founders explicitly sought to prevent. And if you're a Christian who finds this outcome appealing, please realize this applies to ALL religious institutions: if churches can get involved in politics, then mosques and covens can, too.
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    Church and state should be SEPARATE. Completely. 100% separate. That is not the case in the US today and that is a dangerous shame.
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    Noooo. As for Miles who doesn't understand anything beyond the Bible. Ok Miles a few simple words. Tax Exemption. If churches want to pay taxes on the billions they take in annually be my guest tell your flock who god wants them to vote for. The church has done enough damage to the world that we don't need them making decisions for us again. That was the dark ages. We are now kind of free from the churches and don't need the hatred they spew. We already have enough of that. I'm sure the churches violate this law every day anyways
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    Church does not belong in state. We are not a theocracy, whatever some people want.
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    Separation of church and state is one of the basic principles of government in this great country and must be continued/upheld.
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    My husband and I worked together in ministry for almost 15 years before he recently moved into a secular job. Our family has always been politically active, and my husband, as a minister, has always had political opinions. He's never shared those opinions from the pulpit, though, because there is a time and a place for sharing political opinions and that is NOT as part of the work of a church. A church, or temple, or chapel, or any house of worship should be just that - a house of worship, not of politics. That doesn't squelch a minister, pastor, priest, or rabbi's freedom of speech; it just separates their action of speaking their political beliefs from their role as spiritual leader of an organization. That separation, I think, is a good and healthy thing.
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    Of course not!! We are set up with separation of church & state for reasons having nothing to do with religious beliefs and everything to do with people's ability to oppress using their own beliefs vs . "Others." This is religious corruption from which many escaped to our country to pursue religious freedom. Those now, who want to empower religious institutions, do so to give religions a voice in government. The thought is untenable in the U S A.
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    Absolutely not. Christians already are trying to run roughshod over the rest of us with their hate and bigotry. Don't give them more power to discriminate! Separation of church and state is a cornerstone of this country.
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    Only if they lose tax-exempt status.
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    KEEP CHURCH AND STATE SEPARATE.
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    I agree with those saying that church and state must be kept separate. I imagine those who want otherwise only want it because they imagine their group will always be the one in charge.
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    Religion does not belong in government decisions
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    It's interesting that people continue commenting "separation of church and state". If you look at the constitution it clearly states that the government cannot establish a specific religion or religious practices within the establishment clause. It also has something called the free exercise clause which allows every citizen of the United States to exercise their religion and their religious beliefs. Also the freedom of speech gives EVERYONE the right to say what the believe. There should be no interference with this right. This bill is not constitutional.
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