Written by Don Byrd
In a new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll conducted in August, only 13% of respondents favored “allowing religious leaders to endorse candidates while retaining their tax exempt status.” 57% opposed the idea, including 38% who strongly oppose.
The law that prohibits tax-exempt organizations (including houses of worship) from endorsing candidates, commonly referred to as the “Johnson Amendment,” has been under fire in recent years by politicians, despite the strong and consistent public opposition to repealing it. Most recently, President Trump assured a group of evangelical leaders at a White House dinner that he had removed that hurdle prohibiting politics in the pulpit, even though the Johnson Amendment remains the law of the land. Efforts to repeal it, which would require an act of Congress, have been rejected.
In other interesting tidbits from the poll, by a 48-43 margin, respondents said that when they vote, it is “important that a candidate has strong religious beliefs.” Less important (42-47) to respondents is that the candidate shares their religious beliefs, and even less important (36-51) is that the candidate is supported by the respondent’s religious leaders.
For more on the Johnson Amendment and how you can get involved in making sure that key protection against politicizing our houses of worship remains in place, see the Baptist Joint Committee’s Johnson Amendment resource page and the Community Not Candidates resource page.