New York has approved a law that prohibits churches and other nonprofits from campaigning in support or against political candidates.
According to The Christian Post, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill S4347 into law last week. The law is a state-level equivalent to the current Johnson Amendment, which prohibits nonprofits from campaigning.
The Johnson Amendment, passed in 1954, has recently been criticized for limiting the rights of nonprofits, including churches. Then in May 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that called for the federal government to stop enforcing the amendment, so nonprofits could publicly support or not support political campaigns. Officially, the Amendment has not been repealed.
The New York law says nonprofit groups, secular or religious, cannot participate in “any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”
“For too long we have listened to the Trump administration threaten to remove common sense protections prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from engaging in inappropriate political activities,” Cuomo said.
“New Yorkers have a right to free and fair elections, and this law will further protect our democracy from unjustified interferences once and for all.”
Ryan Tucker, of the Alliance Defending Freedom, however, wrote in a New York Daily News opinion column that the law is another way the government is “cracking down on political speech.”
“In the minds of New York lawmakers, a group can only speak freely if it pays the government extra for the privilege of doing so. That type of financial coercion may pay for a payroll increase in Albany, but it will sideline the roles of both secular and religious charities,” Tucker wrote.
“Cuomo’s comments are wrong. The government can’t condition your tax-exempt status with the surrender of your First Amendment rights or any other constitutionally protected freedom.”
Photo courtesy: Emiliano Bar/Unsplash