Language in the federal tax overhaul bill that would have ended the IRS regulation of barring churches from endorsing political candidates has been removed from the bill.
The measure, called the Johnson Amendment, was removed from the tax overhaul bill because it “did not meet Senate rules that require elements of the tax bill to have something to do with the budget.”
The Johnson Amendment was first introduced in 1954 by then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson. The amendment said the IRS could prohibit churches and other nonprofits from endorsing political candidates.
In the 2016 election season, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to repeal the amendment.
“I think maybe that will be my greatest contribution to Christianity — and other religions — is to allow you, when you talk religious liberty, to go and speak openly, and if you like somebody or want somebody to represent you, you should have the right to do it," said Trump at a June 2016 gathering of about 900 evangelical leaders and pastors.
Then as president, Trump signed an executive order calling for the end of the Johnson Amendment.
The House of Representatives then added a provision that repealed the amendment in their version of the tax bill.
"This is a huge win, and we should take a moment to celebrate. But then we have to get back to fighting to protect the Johnson Amendment,” said the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Meanwhile, conservative groups weren’t happy with the language removal.
"Thanks to President Trump, this will be an election issue from this day forward," the Family Research Council said in a statement. "As for FRC, we'll continue the work we began with Pulpit Freedom initiatives until we've legislatively corrected this problem or found a remedy in court."
Photo courtesy: Getty Images
Publication date: December 19, 2017