Should churches be permitted to endorse political candidates? | The Tylt

Should churches be permitted to endorse political candidates?

The Johnson Amendment has prohibited churches and other non-profits from advocating for or against political candidates since 1954. But Donald Trump just vowed to "totally destroy" the amendment at the National Prayer Breakfast. Religious groups say the amendment violates their freedom of expression. Supporters argue it maintains separation of church and state, and that taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize political speech from tax-exempt groups. What do you think? ⛪ 🇺🇸

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Repealing the Johnson Amendment was one of Trump's campaign promises to the religious right, and a push for repeal was written into the GOP platform. It's an IRS provision that reads: 

All section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited 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 at risk of losing tax-exempt status. 

Religious leaders say the rule violates their freedom of speech.

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Proponents of the Johnson Amendment argue two things. Firstly—getting rid of the amendment would create a massive campaign-finance loophole. If it's repealed, churches and charities could become "unregulated vessels" for campaign contributions. 

Secondly, church leaders' free speech is not being violated—they can endorse candidates if they want to, but they cannot have tax-exempt status at the same time. Steven Waldman argues that:

The rule does not even prohibit clergymen from endorsing a candidate. Rather, it says that if a religious leader endorses a candidate, then his church cannot receive the significant benefit of tax exemption, and that people cannot, therefore, make a tax-deductible contribution to that church.
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Opponents of the amendments see it as a way for the left to restrict political speech from the religious right.

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Trump's opponents think his push to repeal the Johnson Amendment is less about religion and more about gaining access to unregulated money.

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Critics think that the amendment is a crucial brick in the wall of separation between church and state. 

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But many religious organizations say they have felt intimidated by the IRS, and that the amendment is just plain unconstitutional.

FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should churches be permitted to endorse political candidates?
#FreeSpeech4Churches
A festive crown for the winner
#NoReligionInPolitics