Republicans are using an obscure bill to quietly erode the separation of church and state

Jul 27, 2017

By Jack Kenkins

With media attention focused on the national debate raging over health care, it would be easy to ignore the spending bill quietly making its way through the House of Representatives. Such proposals often dwell in the largely mundane machinations of the federal government, and technical disputes over its complicated provisions can fly under the radar.

But if you care about the separation of church and state, this year’s bill might be worth paying attention to.

Tucked deep inside more than 200 pages of text is a tiny provision, recently added by the House Appropriations Committee, designed to defang the so-called Johnson Amendment — a section of the tax code that bars churches (a broad legal term that includes most faith groups) and other tax-exempt nonprofits from explicitly endorsing political candidates.

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