Upcoming Tax Bill May Free Up Churches To Exchange Worship For Campaigning

President Trump’s campaign promise to repeal the Johnson Amendment is reported to be a part of upcoming tax reform legislation.

From The Hill:

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in February that he planned to include repeal of the Johnson Amendment in tax reform legislation.

“Places of worship across America need to be free to practice their faith without worrying about Washington or the IRS targeting their religious freedom,” he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “So in our Republican tax reform, we’re going to repeal the damaging effects of the Johnson Amendment once and for all.”

The 1954 addendum to the tax code prohibits churches and other 501 ( c )(3) organizations from campaigning for specific candidates.

It doesn’t prevent churches from preaching the Gospel.

It doesn’t even prevent churches from passing out voter guide literature or setting up voter registration booths on church properties.

You simply can’t spend a Sunday morning talking from the pulpit about why Candidate X is better than Candidate B, and telling the congregation that they need to rush out and vote for Candidate X.

Said Trump:

“I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution,” the president said at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.

“I will do that, remember,” he pledged.

I’m not a fan of the Johnson Amendment. It never should have been included in the tax code. There never should have been a need.

At this juncture in history, however, I’m even less of a fan of it being used as a political flag to wave at Christians, to signal that, somehow, getting rid of it makes one a champion of Christianity.

I’ve said this many times, and I’ll say it again: If you’re talking about a candidate from the pulpit in the house of God, then you’re preaching the wrong King.

Any time I hear someone saying the Johnson Amendment needs to be repealed, in order to give people of faith more freedom, I can’t help but think of Jesus and the money changers in the temple.

John 2:13-17 NIV “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.

Emphasis mine.

Worship services should be for worship, or activities that build up the Body of Christ, fellowship, and godly pursuits.

Anyone who believes a restriction on political campaigning from the pulpit is the same as restricting worship, is someone who has never truly worshipped.

I said the Johnson Amendment should have never been a thing we needed. It came about because an opponent of then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson was having some success by campaigning from the pulpit.

That just shows how lukewarm the American church has been, and for how long.