Written by Sandy Sorensen
Don’t let politicians make houses of worship into cogs in the political machine.
Last week, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order reaffirming his commitment to destroying the so-called “Johnson Amendment,” a law that protects the integrity of tax-exempt organizations, including houses of worship, by ensuring they do not endorse or oppose political candidates. It is vitally important that our houses of worship are not reduced to loophole in campaign finance laws.
Under current law, houses of worship are free to engage in public debate on any issue, host candidate forums, hold voter registration drives, encourage people to vote, help transport people to the polls and even, with a few boundaries, lobby on specific legislation and invite candidates to speak. They simply can’t endorse or oppose candidates while benefiting from preferred tax-exempt status. This is a valuable safeguard to prevent political parties and candidates seeking power from using houses of worship and other 501(c)(3) organizations as tools for political gain.
In April, 99 faith groups told Congress they don’t want to change the law. Now Congress needs to hear from individual faith leaders, including ordained clergy, lay leaders, professors, or employees of faith-based nonprofits. Sign this letter, and let’s send a strong message to Congress that our sacred spaces must remain sacred.
Visit faith-voices.org to add your name to the growing list of faith leaders standing up for the integrity and independence of houses of worship.