Editorial: Repeal the Johnson Amendment

One of the backbones of liberty in America is free speech.

Pastors should be able to say anything they want on a personal level and from their pulpit.

In 1954, then Sen. Lyndon Johnson of Texas (later President Johnson) authored an amendment that came to be known as the Johnson Amendment. Basically, it states that any 501c3 nonprofit group – including almost all churches – would lose their tax-exempt status if they endorsed political candidates or political causes from the pulpit.

The chilling effect of this federal caused preachers all over America to stop talking about candidates and important issues, including abortion, divorce, adultery, and other sins described in the Bible. Some brave pastors have always defied this unconstitutional prohibition and spoke out against immoral politicians and harmful policies.

Now President Donald Trump wants to repeal the Johnson Amendment. He correctly believes that pastors should not have a dark cloud from the Internal Revenue Service hanging over their heads if they tell their congregations to not vote for a candidate who supports abortion or is in an openly adulterous relationship.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a Baptist minister, introduced the Free Speech Fairness Act, which would change the Johnson Amendment to allow nonprofits and houses of worship to speak freely about government or electoral activity without fear of IRS retribution.

If it is repealed, and it looks like it will be, it could mean a great deal to congregations all over America. It’s just another campaign promise that Trump will try to make good on.