By Jack Jenkins
The U.S. House of Representatives quietly passed a spending bill on Thursday that could transform churches and other houses of worship into entities more closely resembling SuperPACs.
When House members passed a $1.2 trillion “megabus” spending bill yesterday in a 211-198 vote, media attention largely focused on the proposal’s high cost and potential challenges in the Senate. But according to the House Appropriations Committee press release, the bill contains a rider with a provision that would make it difficult to enforce the so-called Johnson Amendment, a part of the tax code that prohibits churches and other houses of worship from endorsing political candidates.
“Members of Congress had ample opportunities to strike [the provision] from this bill; when it was debated at the sub-committee level, at the full committee level, when Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz offered an amendment to cut it from the bill, and when it was on the floor of the House of Representatives,” Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, said in a statement. “At every point, Congress failed to stand up for a law which has helped maintain the separation of church and state for more than 63 years.”
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