How a Recent Executive Order and FEC Statement Impact the Johnson Amendment’s Continued Impediment to the Church | American Center for Law and Justice
  Search  |  Login  |  Register

ACLJ Profile Completion

Verified

The Johnson Amendment’s Continued Impediment to the Church

By Mark Goldfeder1600960199483

The Johnson Amendment is the controversial provision in the U.S. tax code that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from participating or intervening in “any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

As it relates to churches and other houses of worship, essentially, the Amendment means that while faith leaders are free to discuss political issues, or to endorse candidates in their personal capacities, they cannot, in their official capacities, directly support or oppose any candidates for office. While enforcement has generally been lax since the passage of the Amendment, in theory a violation could result in the revocation of an organization’s tax-exempt status and the imposition of excise taxes.

Critics have long argued that the Johnson Amendment creates an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of churches and pastors, while supporters on the Left claim that it merely separates partisan politics from overtaking and dividing the charitable sector. The ACLJ has long fought against this anti-free speech Amendment, urging its repeal.

Every election season brings with it some renewed interest in and questions about the applicability of the clause, and this year has been no different.  Recent comments from the Chair of the Federal Election Commission suggested that Church leaders could safely ignore the Amendment and feel free to endorse candidates for election, while some of his colleagues have pushed back on this notion.

The most recent disputes revolve around President Trump’s 2017 Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty. While the Johnson Amendment is still technically on the books, among other things, the President’s order directs the government “not to take adverse action against religious organizations that it would not take against other organizations in the enforcement of these restrictions.”

For an in-depth look at the history and policy behind the current Johnson Amendment debates, please see: Mark A. Goldfeder, Michelle K. Terry, To Repeal or Not Repeal: The Johnson Amendment, 48 U. Mem. L. Rev. 209, 211 (2017).

For more on the ACLJ’s fight against the unconstitutional Johnson Amendment, please see: How the Johnson Amendment Threatens Churches’ Freedoms.

Protect Pastors’ Free Speech

Free Speech  Signatures

LOGIN

Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from ACLJ.

$20
$40
$60
$120
$240
Make this a monthly tax-deductible gift.

As we aggressively fight to protect pastors and defend religious liberty, we urgently need your support. Donate to defend free speech today.

Email Address is required.
First Name is required.
Last Name is required.
Credit Card Number is required.
Verification Code is required.
Expiration Month is required.
Expiration Year is required.
Receive the latest news, updates, and contribution opportunities from ACLJ.
Encourage your friends to sign and donate by sharing this petition.
Latest in
Free Speech

BREAKING: Senate Judiciary to Subpoena Twitter CEO Over Censorship

By Jordan Sekulow1602798084449

The Senate Judiciary Committee is going to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over censorship. On today’s Jay Sekulow Live , we discussed the Senate Judiciary Committee announcing its intentions to subpoena the Twitter CEO over censorship of conservatives and even the press and to hold a hearing next...

read more

Big Tech Censorship and Bias – What Do We Do About It?

By Craig Parshall1591794000000

On May 28th, 2020 President Donald Trump released his Executive Order (“EO”) titled, “Preventing Online Censorship.” In releasing the full text of the EO, mainstream media outlets like NBC news were quick to criticize the Presidential order, characterizing it as just a “response to Twitter,” which...

read more

Leftist Doxing of Conservatives and the First Amendment

By Laura Hernandez1570115343105

Last week, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) filed an amicus brief in two related cases, Americans for Prosperity Foundation (AFP) v. Becerra and Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) v. Becerra. Both cases began in California when the Attorney General required all charities to submit lists of...

read more

ACLJ Cues Up Free Speech Case for Supreme Court

By Walter M. Weber1534795413681

Today the ACLJ filed a reply in support of our request that the Supreme Court hear an important free speech case, Keister v. Bell . At stake in the case is the freedom of people to speak on sidewalks along public streets. I wrote about this case when we filed our petition in early July. Since then,

read more