Recent events by both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government have brought the Johnson Amendment and participation in elections by non-profits (including churches) to the forefront. The Johnson Amendment is the 1954 amendment to Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code prohibiting tax exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. This amendment is so named because of its sponsorship by then Senator Lyndon Johnson who had been targeted by a non-profit during an election.
While not controversial when passed, it is now viewed by some as an infringement on the religious liberty and speech rights of churches. Critics contend that it regulates what can be said from the pulpit, normally one of the most sacrosanct places free from government intrusion. Others have raised concerns that it creates an environment for further regulation of churches via the tax code. Continue reading