Written by Don Byrd
[UPDATE 2/9/2017: Amanda Tyler has a new op-ed at Religion News Service on this issue.]
This morning speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Donald Trump reiterated his campaign pledge to overturn an IRS regulation that prohibits houses of worship, as a condition of tax exempt status, from participating in any political campaign for elected office. “I will get rid of and totally destroy” the rule, he said, claiming that it infringes on the “right to worship according to our own beliefs.”
In response, Baptist Joint Committee executive director Amanda Tyler issued a strong statement opposing such a move that makes clear the rule actually serves to protect houses of worship:
“Politicizing churches does them no favors. The promised repeal is an attack on the integrity of both our charitable organizations and campaign finance system.
Inviting churches to intervene in campaigns with tax-deductible offerings would fundamentally change our houses of worship. It would usher our partisan divisions into the pews and harm the church’s ability to provide refuge.
To change the law would hinder the church’s prophetic witness, threatening to turn pulpit prophets into political puppets.”
The IRS electioneering restriction, sometimes called the “Johnson Amendment,” applies to all 501(c)(3) organizations – including houses of worship and other charitable organizations.
For more, see the Baptist Joint Committee’s resource page on Church Electioneering.