GOP tax bill would allow churches to endorse political candidates
The House Republican tax bill released Thursday would allow churches to endorse political candidates, rolling back a 1950s-era law that bars such activities.
The proposed change is listed at the end of the 429-page legislation.
It states that churches should not lose their tax-exempt status based on statements about political candidates made during the course of religious services.
The change to what is known as the Johnson Amendment has long been a priority of leaders on the religious right. They say the policy violates the First Amendment.
The Johnson Amendment prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofits from engaging in certain political activities.
President Trump vowed to repeal the amendment during the campaign, saying it would “give our churches their voice back.”
Shortly after taking office, Trump said he would “totally destroy” the amendment, which allows the IRS to revoke a church’s tax exempt status if it’s deemed to be participating in a political campaign.
A group of more than 4,000 religious leaders from around the country wrote a letter in August opposing efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, saying it “would harm houses or worship, which are not identified or divided by partisan lines.”