Legislation Would Curb Restrictions on Political Speech in Churches

Jody Hice photo

Rep. Jody Hice Photo by Gage Skidmore

(The Daily Signal) Congress is taking aim at a 1950s-era law that restricts the free speech of churches and other nonprofits after President Donald Trump recently condemned it.

Trump pledged at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, “I will get rid of, and totally destroy, the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., was a pastor for 25 years before serving in Congress, which is one reason he favors doing away with the Johnson Amendment. The law threatens the tax-exempt status of nonprofits, including churches, for engaging in certain political speech.

“For too long, the IRS has used the Johnson Amendment to silence and threaten religious institutions and charitable entities,” Hice said in a public statement. “As a minister who has experienced intimidation from the IRS firsthand, I know just how important it is to ensure that our churches and nonprofit organizations are allowed the same fundamental rights as every citizen of this great nation.”

Hice and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., announced their bill to repeal the law the same day Trump pledged to at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Repealing the Johnson Amendment was included in the GOP platformadopted at the 2016 Republican National Convention that nominated Trump.

The bill would amend the U.S. tax code to allow 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to speak out on political matters so long as the commentary is made in the ordinary course of the carrying out of a group’s tax-exempt purpose, and as long as no expenditures are made to promote the message that might relate to a candidate….

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  • Charles II

    This law was an unconstitutional infringement of free speech when it was passed. Somehow, it was only enforced against conservative churches and organizations. Leftist churches and groups continued their campaigns, slowing only to attack conservatives who pointed out their false comments and claims.

  • NCO retired

    Allow all political speech in churches, synagogues etc, they do it anyhow. But, take away all tax exemptions!!!