When Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson introduced his amendment to the United States Constitution in 1954, it did not attract much attention in the media or raise eyebrows in the political circles. It seemed to all as a reasonable amendment that reinforced a basic American principle which envisioned a country where the church and the state operated independent of each other. In fact, the amendment was made into law that very year and was signed into law by a Republican president Dwight Eisenhower. However, as the years have progressed and the effects of the amendment have come to be felt in the political arena, it has become a bone of contention.
The Republican Party, ironically, has been actively attempting to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment over the years. Many Republican politicians have spoken against it on different occasions, key among them President Donald Trump. In fact, a repeal of this amendment was one of his key campaign promises during his presidential campaign in 2016. And now that he is president, Republican Party legislators have been making attempts to either weaken the amendment or repeal it altogether.
There is a reason why politicians would wish to do away with the Johnson Amendment. Mainly its because it prohibits tax-exempt non-profit organizations such as charities, universities, and churches from campaigning for or against a political candidate. These organizations and institutions, referred to as 501(c)(3), would lose their tax-exempt status if they were to violate this amendment. Politicians are more concerned with the inability of the church to participate in political discourse than any other organization. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the church is a very influential institution which bears the ability to steer its congregants’ political persuasion, making it the most powerful political tool which cannot be used. Watch youtube to know more.
The second one is the money. Americans contribute billions of dollars to the church each year, with the belief that they would be used for good courses both in the country and around the world. Repealing the Johnson Amendment would allow the churches to spend such money for political campaigns. However, the main concern is that doing this would open a loophole for the wealthy to channel their campaign contributions through the churches. This would create an avenue for dark money to find its way into political campaigns.
That is why End Citizens America has started a campaign to save the Johnson Amendment. End Citizens America is a PAC which was established in 2010 with the aim of preventing dark money from entering into political campaigns. This was after the Supreme Court of United States, adjudicating the Citizens United v. FEC case, determined that corporate bodies bore the same rights as individuals, a decision which allowed such bodies to contribute money to political campaigns anonymously. This made it difficult to prevent dark money from entering the American political process.
End Citizens America views the recent attempts at weakening or repealing the Johnson Amendment as another affront to American democracy which would create another avenue for dark money to enter in the political campaigns. Know more: https://www.fec.gov/data/committee/C00573261/