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The Question

In 1954 Congress passed the Johnson Amendment (prepared by Lyndon Johnson) which said that non-profits (including churches) could not speak in favor of political candidates. Is this constitutional?


Churches Have No Business Speaking in Favor of Political Candidates

Charles M. Kester

When we go to church, we seek spiritual and not political instruction. For that limited period of time we seek to serve God rather than "man" or Caesar. Efforts to use the pulpit to speak in favor of political candidates are little more than misguided attempts to thrust Caesar into a realm properly reserved for God.

Church Should Not Be a Political Mouthpiece

Michael D. Peabody

As it now stands, churches and charities are welcome to speak truth to power on the issues that matter - from opposing human trafficking, to lobbying for workplace accommodation for religious employees, to pursuing justice. Religious organizations just cannot support or oppose particular candidates or political parties. This is a good thing.

Free Speech vs. Religion Clauses

Alan E. Brownstein

The tax regulation restricting speech endorsing or disfavoring political candidates applies across the board to all non-profits. It does not discriminate against religion. Accordingly, the regulation does not violate the Free Exercise Clause.

You Can’t Have Your Cake…

Jason Hines

The Johnson Amendment does not ban churches from endorsing political candidates. Neither does it in any way criminalize or punish churches that endorse political candidates. The Johnson Amendment is a part of Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, which establishes that charitable organizations are exempt from taxation. The amendment, therefore, is a limit on that benefit.

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