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Supreme Court of the United States

Bill Introduced to Repeal the Johnson Amendment

October 17, 2017

A bill was recently introduced in the House of Representatives to repeal the portion of the Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) popularly referred to as the Johnson Amendment.  The bill is H.R. 3600 and, in its preamble, states that its purpose is to "restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations by repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment."

It is no secret that ADF believes the Johnson Amendment is blatantly unconstitutional.  It violates the First Amendment in numerous ways.  It was also passed hastily with no forethought given to its effect on the constitutional rights of churches and pastors.  If you are interested, one scholar has done an in-depth study of the history of the Johnson Amendment and its dubious beginnings. This scholar concluded that the Johnson Amendment had nothing to do with the so-called "separation of church and state" and was not intended to enforce any perceived proper role of the church in relation to politics.  Rather, the Johnson Amendment was a bill passed to silence Johnson's political opponents who were hurting his reelection chances.

It would be a great day for America's clergy if Congress were to repeal the Johnson Amendment.  The bill, H.R. 3600 has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and is pending further action.

Pastors should capitalize on this momentum by doing two things.  First, remain informed of the progress of H.R. 3600.  We will do our best to keep you updated on its status.  Second, sign up to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday to be held on October 7, 2012.  If you are not a pastor, send every pastor you know to and encourage them to sign up to stand together with hundreds of other pastors who are exercising their constitutional rights to speak freely from their pulpits.  This year's Pulpit Freedom Sunday promises to be the biggest yet.  Please sign up now to participate.

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