The new tax bill unveiled today contains a provision that would allow pastors to endorse political candidates. The bill weakens the Johnson Amendment, a law passed in 1954 that prevents all nonprofits, including houses of worship, from endorsing political candidates. The Washington Post reports:
The Republicans’ bill would make it legal for ministers and other religious leaders to endorse candidates from the pulpit but stops short of allowing other political participation such as financial contributions from churches to campaigns. The bill stipulates that a religious institution wouldn’t be found to have violated the law “solely because of the content of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings.”
That’s the protection that some religious leaders, mainly conservative Christians, have requested for years in the name of “pulpit freedom,” even though the Internal Revenue Service has almost never penalized clergy for the content of a sermon.
You can read our full statement on the bill here.