This Would Give Pastors A Greater Voice on Politics and Social Issues
Pastors may shortly experience greater freedom from the pulpit regarding politics and social issues without risking their churches’ tax exempt status.
A group of Republican leaders and attorneys are pushing forth a measure restricting the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment- a law from the 50’s that they believe was instated to violate pastor’s free speech and freedom of religion.
In a statement from Alliance Defending Freedom, they said that today, the IRS is able to use the Johnson Amendment to regulate what pastors are able (and not able) to preach. The law itself is able to sensor the sermon if the IRS deems it to be political.
For this reason, Representative Steve Scalise, R-La, and Jody Hice, R-Ga., introduced the Free Speech Fairness Act in the House on Wednesday. This bill prevent the IRS from using the Johnson Amendment to censor churches.
“It’s time that we eliminate the targeting of the IRS. Enough is enough and this has been going on for far too long. And this is absolutely unconscionable that our government would force individuals to choose between their constitutionally protected rights or their faith,” Hice commented.
ADF Senior Counsel, Erik Stanley, commented that the Johnson Amendment was originally never intended to affect churches, but it has been notably used to intimidate pastors into censoring what they preach about.
“No tax exemption can be based on a requirement that a church or any other non-profit organization give up a constitutionally protected freedom, including free speech,” he added. “Americans don’t need the IRS to be the referee.”
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