Update (7/10): The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on the 2018 Financial Services spending bill on Thursday, July 13th.

On June 29th, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government passed a FY 2018 spending bill that includes a provision to bar the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing the Johnson Amendment. The 1954 law currently prohibits tax-exempt houses of worship from endorsing political candidates or making campaign contributions.

Currently, the IRS revokes the tax-exempt status of any church or religious institution that endorses or funds a political candidate. If the IRS were to stop enforcing this rule, individuals and big donors could skirt campaign finance laws by funneling tax-free donations to candidates by way of churches (currently, no political campaign contributions are tax-exempt). The change would allow religious institutions to become major money players in our government by serving as channels for dark money donations to political campaigns. It is clear that the Subcommittee’s rule change is specifically designed with right-wing evangelical groups in mind, as the proposed rule only mentions exempting churches and not other places of worship (mosques, synagogues, etc.).

The House’s attack on the Johnson Amendment parallels the “Religious Liberty” executive order Trump signed in May. While a President cannot repeal or change laws such as the Johnson Amendment, Congress can, and is now doing so through the 2018 federal budget. The Financial Services spending bill that contains this provision now moves to the full House Appropriations Committee for further debate.


SCRIPT (5 calls)

Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from Springfield.

I’m calling to express my opposition to the provision in the Financial Services appropriations bill that allows churches to endorse or fund political candidates tax-free. It is vital that we maintain the separation of Church and State, and I ask that the 2018 spending bill sufficiently fund the IRS to allow them to enforce this law.

Thank you for your time and attention.

[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]

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