Earlier in the year President Trump strongly suggested he might push for the removal of the so-called ‘Johnson Amendment’, the infamous regulation that threatens churches with fines from the IRS or even loss of tax-exempt status if political speech issues forth from the pulpit.
That has led many in Congress to push for full freedom of speech from the pulpit.
But now, quite by surprise, the new Republican tax reform bill has language in it that some argue would actually give the IRS more power over churches in that it would invite them to inspect the degree to which churches are engaging in political speech.
With the latest developments in the Lois Lerner scandal, we might advise Republicans in Congress to take another look at their language.
Let’s just call a do-over, shall we?
Here’s more from PJ Media…
Last year, Donald Trump drew attention to the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits certain tax-exempt groups including churches from participating in political campaigns. Trump called for repealing this amendment, on the grounds that religious organizations should not fear losing tax exemption when discussing politics. On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a massive tax bill that addresses the Johnson Amendment, but some have warned that this bill would actually make matters worse for churches, not better.
“I think this language strengthens the IRS in their ability to put 501(c)3s under a microscope,” Rob Walgate, vice president of the American Policy Roundtable (AP Roundtable), told PJ Media. He referred to all sorts of nonprofit groups that are tax exempt under section 501(c)3 of the tax code, including churches.
While the GOP bill would supposedly allow churches and other groups to speak about politics without fear, Walgate warned that it would really open the door to IRS investigation into every aspect of a church’s operation.
“Every week across the country, in homilies, in sermons, in synagogues, people are being taught from the scriptures principles to apply in their lives that impact how they vote. Do we say, ‘That sermon impacted how people vote, that church has to be put under a microscope?'” Walgate asked.
Unfortunately, the language in the Republican tax bill suggests the answer is “yes.”