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Surprising detail in GOP tax plan: it would end ban on clergy endorsing candidates from the pulpit

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Jeffrey-Bruno

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/03/17

Details:

Tucked in to the last pages of a sweeping Republican tax overhaul bill is a paragraph that would end a 60-year-old ban on clergy preaching partisan politics from the pulpit.

President Trump promised repeatedly during the campaign and after his election to repeal the so-called Johnson Amendment, a provision of tax law first adopted in 1954 that prohibits non-profit charitable organizations — called 501(c)(3)s based on the section of the tax code that governs them — from endorsing political candidates.

Trump issued an executive order on religious freedom earlier this year that some conservatives criticized for not going far enough to upend the Johnson Amendment. The order directed the IRS to enforce the law consistent with how it’s done so in the past — allowing speech on political and moral issues as long as it doesn’t advocate the election or defeat of a particular candidate. Trump could not do more because only Congress can change that law to allow churches to endorse candidates without losing their tax-exempt status.

The tax bill released by House Republicans on Thursday does exactly that.

The language states that no church shall be “Deemed to have participated in, or intervened in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office, solely because of the content of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings.”

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