A provision in the U.S tax code that bars churches and charities from engaging in political campaigns remains intact, more than a year after President Trump pledged to “get rid of and totally destroy” it.
Under the Johnson Amendment, named for its 1954 legislative sponsor, then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, religious and nonprofit organizations can lose their tax-exempt status if they engage in activity “on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
Some religious leaders and politicians say the amendment limits the right to free speech and have argued for its repeal. Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017, President Trump gave the repeal effort his full support. In May he signed an executive order urging the Treasury Department to show leniency in enforcing the amendment, and in recent months he urged the U.S. Congress to do away with it altogether.
The repeal effort, however, ran into stiff opposition from nonprofit organizations and many church groups who said that without the amendment they would face pressure from politicians seeking endorsements. Neither the tax bill passed in December nor the spending bill passed Thursday by the House included a repeal provision.