Faith leaders tell Congress: Keep the current law that protects houses of worship
Update: November 2, 2017: BJC responds to tax bill that would weaken the Johnson Amendment
On August 16, more than 4,000 faith leaders from all 50 states called on Congress to keep the Johnson Amendment, the part of the tax code that protects houses of worship and other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations from being pressured by politicians for endorsements.
The faith leaders – spanning all major religions – signed a letter explaining how the current law ensures their continued independent voice, protecting houses of worship from becoming centers of partisan politics or cogs in the political machine.
The letter was organized by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty and several other religious groups, including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Franciscan Action Network and Interfaith Alliance.
“We have heard an outcry from faith leaders across the country about changing the tax law to encourage churches to issue campaign endorsements,” said BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler. “They are concerned that weakening the ‘Johnson Amendment’ would divide their communities and distract from their mission. In response, we worked with other groups to create this platform for leaders to lift their individual voices. This effort is ongoing, and I encourage clergy and lay leaders to join these 4,000 early adopters in sending a strong message to Congress.”
This letter joins a similar effort from more than 100 national and state religious groups asking Congress to keep the current law, as well as a letter from almost 5,000 nonprofit organizations also calling on lawmakers to leave the Johnson Amendment intact.
Baptists share why they want to keep the current law:
Facebook Live video:
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State hosted a Facebook live video before the letter was delivered to Congress. You can watch it below, featuring BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler, coalition partners and local Baptist pastors:
See more photos and comments at Faith-Voices.org