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​B’nai B’rith International is dismayed by President Donald J. Trump’s plan to repeal the Johnson Amendment.
The Johnson Amendment, sponsored in 1954 by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, prohibits any 501(c)(3) organization (churches, synagogues, mosques, nonprofits) from endorsing or opposing any political candidate for office. Endorsing or opposing a candidate will result in the loss of tax exempt status.
The president announced his plan to repeal the law at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 2. During his speech Trump said he will “totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.”
Revoking the Johnson Amendment would remove a crucial brick from the wall of church-state separation. By preserving tax-exempt status for religious congregations that engage in political speech, President Trump’s proposal would strain the government’s obligation under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and encourage political endorsements from the pulpit.