Last week, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved a funding bill that included an extraneous provision (rider) that essentially blocks enforcement of the Johnson Amendment against houses of worship and their auxiliary organizations. Certain charitable nonprofits would be able to endorse candidates for public office and divert charitable assets to political campaigns if a rider to a federal funding bill is approved by Congress in the coming weeks.
For 60+ years, the Johnson Amendment has prevented 501(c)(3) organizations from engaging in partisan, election-related activities and is seen by most in the nonprofit community as a valuable protection that keeps charitable nonprofits, religious institutions, and foundations focused on their missions rather than responding to outside pressures to divert their time, money, and other resources to engage in partisan electioneering. The broad nonprofit community opposes changes to the Johnson Amendment, as expressed by nearly one hundred religious denominations and organizations, more than 3,000 religious leaders, 89 percent of evangelical pastors, more than 5,000 charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations, and 72 percent of American voters.
The House of Representatives is expected to consider the appropriations bill this month and other legislation harmful to the Johnson Amendment and nonprofit nonpartisanship is pending in the Senate and House. Now is the time to act.