jefferson faceWritten by Don Byrd

In his acceptance speech at the GOP convention, presidential nominee Donald Trump echoed his party’s platform in calling for an end to the IRS ban on campaigning by tax-exempt churches. 

Here is my transcript of that portion of his remarks. You can watch the speech at C-Span here. This moment comes at approximately 1:06:30.

At this moment, I would like to thank the evangelical and religious community because, I’ll tell you what, the support that they’ve given me – and I’m not sure I totally deserve it – has been so amazing and has had such a big reason for me being here tonight. True, so true. They have much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits.

An amendment pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. Their voice has been taken away.

I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and to protect free speech for all Americans. 

As I wrote earlier this week, far from being a threat to religious liberty, the ban serves to protect houses of worship from needless and harmful entanglement with political operations. It safeguards the integrity of our tax exemption and political finance systems. In short, it is good for both church and state. It also is simply a matter of fairness: other 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations may not endorse political candidates without risking that status. Why should churches be treated any differently?