This is something that I have overlooked since Donald Trump took office. Earlier this year on May 4th (2017), US President Donald Trump attempted to keep a promise to nullify the interruption of people’s free speech who preach at a church. In 1954 Lyndon Johnson pushed through a congressional amendment that forbid church who file as a 501c3 from favoring or opposing any political candidates.
The premise is that private entities (churches) can not be allowed to claim tax exemptions if they endorse or oppose any political candidates. As a way to limit the speech of private churches, Lyndon Johnson passed what has been known as “the Johnson Amendment”. This act has been effective to silence private churches since the 1950s, and there has been a lot of opposition to this since. Churches, pastors and fellowships declare that this is an infringement upon their First Amendment rights.
Which states: “The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prevents Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or to petition for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.”
Some people will attempt to reapply this important Amendment to mean “the separation of church and state”, meaning that the church can not comment on the state, and such. However, if anyone knows anything about the founding fathers, the Constitution was written and adopted to restrict the government and not the people.
The original draft the first Amendment by James Madison clarifies the intent of the first amendment if there was any confusion.
“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed. The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable. The people shall not be restrained from peaceably assembling and consulting for their common good; nor from applying to the Legislature by petitions, or remonstrances, for redress of their grievances”
On one hand the government can not favor any particular religion. On the other hand the government can no suppress the speech of individuals.
Churches cannot favor or oppose particular candidates for political office. The ban on electioneering has nothing to do with the First Amendment or Jeffersonian principles of separation of church and state. Instead, the ban is based on a provision in the 1954 tax reform act prohibiting all tax-exempt organizations from supporting or opposing political candidates. I show that the provision grew out of the anti-communist frenzy of the 1950s and was directed at right-wing organizations such as Facts Forum and the Committee for Constitutional Government. It was introduced by Lyndon Johnson as part of his effort to end McCarthyism, protect the loyalist wing of the Texas Democratic Party, and win reelection to the Senate in 1954. I also discuss the implications these findings have for contemporary church policy.
What Trump has done is sign an executive order that tells the Treasury Department to be lenient in its enforcement of current law against religious organizations.
Specifically, the May 4 order said:
“The Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury.”
The language in the bill is clearly an effort to gut the Johnson Amendment as applied to churches, said Charles Haynes, a religious freedom expert at the Newseum.
“At the very least, this provision puts a further chilling effect on any attempts by IRS staff to enforce the Johnson Amendment with respect to pulpit speech — the part of the amendment that conservative churches have most opposed,” Haynes said. “At its worst, the provision keeps IRS staff from doing its job to prevent charitable donations to flow to political campaigns.”
I had a conversation of a lad tonight who in the end deleted all of my comments, but he insisted that the Johnson Amendment was intended mainly to forbid churches from donating to political causes. I insisted that it was a law that was made in order to #1. Forbid the free speech of churches #2. To get money from individuals who want to produce political speech who also serve in a church calling.
This fellow Tom Vanderslice insisted that this was not a limitation on speech, or a method for the government to raise money from people who want to express themselves.
However I pointed out, that I run a church at www.xCannabis.net, and that I file taxes under an LLC. I produce a newspaper, and I pay taxes. In my newspaper, I express many political opinions, that a non-profit church would not be able to do, but only because I pay taxes on my speech and they do not.
I cited some legal court precedence to show that this type of law (the “Johnson Amendment”) violates our constitution.
This fellow Tom Vanderslice clearly shows his true colors for supporting the Johnson Amendment. It seems limiting speech is a practice he approves of.
Reference this conversation that I saved before I removed Tom from my facebook friends list;
Final message to Tom Vanderslice (which of course he deleted)
Needless to say, I support nullifying the Johnson Amendment. I will leave you to your own opinion about Tom’s point of view on licensing liberty.