"US Capitol" by Andrew Bossi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Why the Johnson Amendment is always debated and never repealed

Dec 24, 2018

By Jacob Lupfer

As the 115th Congress winds down amid chaos in Washington, one unsettled debate concerns a long-uncontroversial line added to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in 1954 barring nonprofit entities, including houses of worship, from endorsing candidates for office.

Republican-aligned elites in and out of government are once again having a field day raising money and rallying their troops against a legislative solution that has worked extremely well for more than six decades.

It’s time to stop the insanity and start focusing on real problems.

The Johnson Amendment, named for the Texas senator who later became the 36th president, was considered settled law for more than 60 years. It held together a broad social consensus against electioneering in churches. Secularists and lay believers alike agreed that nonprofits should not be taxed — but that if they wanted to engage in partisan politics, they should pay into the system like the rest of us.

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