Monday, November 27, 2017


If Republicans pass a tax bill, the Johnson Amendment could be history.
For years, a coalition of well-funded groups on the religious right have waged an uphill battle to repeal a 1954 law that bans churches and other nonprofit groups from engaging in political activity.

Now, those groups are edging toward a once-improbable victory as Republican lawmakers, with the enthusiastic backing of President Trump, prepare to rewrite large swaths of the United States tax code as part of the $1.5 trillion tax package moving through Congress.

Among the changes in the tax bill that passed the House this month is a provision to roll back the 1954 ban....

The sudden movement toward their goal appears to trace back to a January 2016 meeting that Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, had convened at his Trump Tower office in Manhattan with evangelical leaders he was courting.

That meeting helped lead to a campaign pledge by Mr. Trump to repeal the ban, known as the Johnson Amendment, and set the stage for its inclusion in the tax code overhaul that passed the House.
The Senate might not pass a tax bill, and if it does, the House and Senate might not agree on a compromise between its version of the bill and the Senate's. The House version repeals the Johnson Amendment; so far, the Senate version doesn't.

But if repeal happens and preachers are free to endorse candidates from the pulpit without risking their churches' tax-exempt status, here's one thing I guarantee will happen: The mainstream media will be shocked at how political churches become, particularly white conservative heartland churches. We'll be told that churches are politicizing more rapidly than anyone expected and that the remarks from the pulpits are more partisan and vitriolic than anyone anticipated.

These will be the same reporters who are shocked that Donald Trump is fervently support by evangelicals, and who still can't quite believe that the religious right is sticking with Roy Moore.

Some churches will decide not to alienate non-conservative congregants, but others will just let their #MAGA flags fly. And mainstream journalists will get the vapors, even though they should know better.

No comments: