Written by Don Byrd

Religious liberty and nonprofit advocates including the Baptist Joint Committee were successful in rallying overwhelming grassroots support for a provision in the law protecting houses of worship from politicization.  Language severely undermining the Johnson Amendment was dropped from the final tax bill, but opponents are vowing to continue the repeal effort, even seeking to have it slipped into unrelated legislation.

The Hill reports:

Now advocates for scaling back the Johnson Amendment are eyeing other legislative vehicles, including the massive government funding package that lawmakers are expected to approve next month.

“We think that the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional,” said David Christensen, of the Family Research Council, the conservative nonprofit run by Tony Perkins. “It’s a priority for our organization to try and see it severely mitigated.”

“As far as the vehicle, we’re optimistic that in the near future that there might be an option to try and tack this to something,” Christensen said.

Why not have an honest and open debate about the merits and popularity of the Johnson Amendment, instead of attempting to just “tack this to something”? Congregations deserve better than last-minute language slipped into essential legislation. Likewise, Senators and Representatives deserve better than to be forced into choosing between funding the government and protecting the health and integrity of nonprofit organizations including houses of worship.

If opponents truly believe the Johnson Amendment presents unconstitutional harms, they can seek redress in the court system, where at least we know that arguments will be fully aired.