Religious groups battle over Johnson Amendment


The Johnson Amendment, a provision in U.S. tax code that prohibits religious groups and 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates, has stood for more than six decades without much resistance.

That changed with the election of President Donald Trump, who promised to “totally destroy” the law. In May 2017, Trump signed an executive order to promote free speech for religious groups. Though the order did not overrule the longstanding law, Trump’s rhetoric emboldened a small group of conservative Christian groups to fight for a repeal.


Campaign Legal Center Director of Federal Reform Brendan Fischer argued a repeal could release “super dark money” into elections by encouraging special interests to funnel anonymous money through 501(c)(3) organizations to get a charitable tax deduction.

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