Don’t Let the Religious Right Buy Candidates: Tell Congress to Protect the Johnson Amendment

June 6, 2017

President Trump has pledged to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, the federal law that prohibits non-profits organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates for public office. Now, some members of Congress who agree with Trump are seeking to repeal this law through the federal budget process — and we need your help to stop them.

The logic of the Johnson Amendment is simple: organizations which are exempted from paying certain taxes — including groups like the Center for Inquiry and houses of worship —shouldn’t be able to use tax-free donations to influence elections.

The law does not prohibit non-profits and their leaders from engaging in politics. There is no ban on preaching or lobbying on any moral matter. Houses of worship and their leaders can and often do speak out and take positions on a range of political, economic, and social issues — including war, poverty, human rights, abortion, contraception, and more. They can also engage in partisan political activities in their capacities as private citizens.

Yet still the religious right seeks to eliminate this restriction. Why?

Because eliminating this rule would allow the religious right to funnel tax-exempt money to political candidates in exchange for furthering their extreme agenda.

Unlike other nonprofit organizations, houses of worship are not required to file tax information with the IRS that would otherwise keep them publicly accountable. Dark money would flow uncontrolled through churches to political campaigns, and ministers and priests could direct their flock from the pulpit to vote for particular individuals. In exchange, those elected officials will be expected to push the regressive social agenda of the religious right: restricting access to abortion and contraception; discriminating against the LGBTQ community; replacing science classes with creationist dogma in our public schools.

CFI has been working tirelessly with a large number of non-profit groups across the religious spectrum to prevent repeal of this important law. If we allow the Johnson Amendment to be repealed, we allow the religious right to buy their way to enacting their extremist agenda. As believers in a secular, humanist society, we cannot allow this to happen.

CFI urges you to use to write and call your members of Congress today and tell them to reject any attempts to use the budget process to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment. Use our action alert system to send your members of Congress a written message, and use the Capitol switchboard to share your views over the phone. All your need to do is call (202) 224-3121 with your state and/or zip code to be connected with your members of Congress.

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