Congress is expected to take up legislation that would effectively undermine the longstanding Johnson Amendment, the provision of federal tax law that protects charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations from demands from politicians and others for endorsements and other support.
At issue is a rider that would add controversial language to effectively block the IRS from enforcing the Johnson Amendment when “churches” violate it in even the most egregious ways, such as diverting charitable assets to influence partisan political campaigns. That language was added at Section 112 to the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019, that begins on October 1 – just five weeks before the general election.
The Senate did not include this or other controversial riders in its version of the appropriations measure. The differences in the bills now must be resolved by a House-Senate conference committee. The decision whether to keep, reject, or revise the harmful provision to politicize nonprofits in the House bill rests in the hands of “conferees,” the lawmakers who will be negotiating the final language.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Ask the conferees to protect the Johnson Amendment and nonprofits by excluding the controversial rider in Section 112 to the final Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill that would weaken the Johnson Amendment. Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has served to protect charitable nonprofits and foundations – and the donating public. It helps to ensure that organizations dedicated to the public good in communities remain above the political fray. Find the phone numbers and emails of conferees here.
- Call on your Members of Congress to encourage the conferees to protect nonprofits from politicization and to support protection of of the Johnson Amendment.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. John Curtis (Congressional District 3): (202) 225-7751 (DC) // (801) 851-2500 (Provo)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
Not sure who your U.S. Representative is? Check here.
Similar efforts to politicize the nonprofit community were thwarted on the tax bill in late 2017 and well-funded special interests have vowed to push even harder to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment in 2018.
If enacted, the provisions to weaken or repeal the Johnson Amendment would:
- Politicize charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations by plunging them into the caustic partisanship that bedevils our country
- Encourage creation of sham organizations, d
- Divert contributions from other nonprofits to fund partisan churches
- Bring discredit to the broad charitable nonprofit community
This change to the Johnson Amendment would be contrary to the views of the vast majority of organizations that benefit from the law, as reflected in the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship, signed by more than 5,800 organizations in all 50 states, in the Faith Voices letter signed by more than 4,300 faith leaders, in the separate letter signed by more than 100 denominations and major religious organizations, and the law enforcement community, as well as polls showing that 72 percent of the public support keeping the Johnson Amendment in place and nearly 90 percent of evangelical pastors who say it is wrong for preachers to endorse candidates from the pulpit.