A new bill that would allow pastors to voice their perspectives on politics was sponsored and introduced by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La) and US Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga) on Wednesday.
The legislation, Free Speech Fairness Act (HR 6195), would address the speech restrictions imposed by the Johnson Amendment.
"For decades now, the Johnson Amendment has limited the ability for a lot of churches and religious organizations and nonprofits to express their views and to exercise their free speech rights and exercise the religious liberty that is one of the hallmarks of our Constitution," Scalise said.
The Johnson amendment does not allow churches and non-profits to participate in any activity or speech which endorses or opposes a political candidate or any public policy.
"Millions of Americans will go to the polls Nov. 8 and vote. These Americans are a cross section of society; they are diverse, with many different opinions, political views, areas of interest, and sources of knowledge that inspire their choices," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote in an opinion on The Daily Signal.
"Such a robust civil society is part of what makes our country great. This civil society and the organizations that compose it should be allowed to inform their followers with expertise that could help them choose elected officials," he continued.
The bill will permit churches and non-profits to make comments on political issues without a fear of losing their tax-exempt status or subpoenas from IRS.
Pastors from around the country will participate in the annual "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," on October 2, a date on which pastors have been speaking on political issues for years. Though the IRS never responded to their activity, but many churches around the country have faced subpoenas for sermons with political content. Pastors believe that legislative action will completely restore the right of free speech by the churches.
However, HR 6195 does not permit the churches and nonprofits to become instruments of political agenda but only allows them to speak about public policies and political candidates.