Writers from the Texas Tribune are looking into what appears as leniency from the IRS against churches supporting politicians even with the Johnson Amendment. The writers started with Pastor Brandon Burden of the KingdomLife Church. In the article, it said that the Dallas-based pastor talked about the "demonic forces" that are within the City Council.
The pastor would proceed to talk about his candidate, saying that God wants that person to win and that God Himself wants the current mayor to be removed from the position. He concluded his sermon by asking people to join his cause to "secure the gate over the city." According to the writer, these statements are in direct violation of the Johnson Amendment.
Johnson Amendment and the Churches
The Johnson Amendment is legislation that bars churches from directly or indirectly participating in political campaigns. Violations of the amendment can result in an offending church or nonprofit institution losing its rights and privileges when it comes to tax exemptions.
The provision came into being in 1954 and is a common issue for churches and even former President Donald Trump who are asking for its abolishment. The article added that the support from the former president could be one of the causes for the churches to be more vocal when it comes to their political support.
According to the article, even with the laws, the churches are becoming more "brazen" when it comes to showing political colors. It added that some pastors would even go to the extent of calling people they oppose as "demonic."
The article said that against the issue, the IRS said that it "cannot comment on, neither confirm nor deny investigations in progress, completed in the past nor contemplated." However, the article discussed the importance of the amendment as even though it does not prohibit or restrict the action, it prevents churches from seeking to elections.
It added that even though the IRS has handed down sanctions when it comes to some religious nonprofits over the 40 years of existence of the amendment, none of them have been churches.
The article also discussed the contentions of some conservative groups about the trend being more obvious in Black churches. They contend that even with such actions, the churches are not as heavily scrutinized.
Known Offending Churches
The article then proceeded to talk about some of the other churches known for violating the rule. The first one is when a pastor in Alaska called for the unseating of Republican U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski. There's also a California church that called for the people to vote for a "Christian conservative candidate" against Gov. Gavin Newsom.
There's also the pastor in New Mexico who criticized Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as "beyond evil" and "demonic."
More Details about the Johnson Amendment
According to NPR, it is an 1854 legislation named after its sponsor, Senator Lyndon Johnson. It was made to prohibit churches and other nonprofit organizations from participating and intervening in any political campaign.
In the article, NPR said that the amendment is not about free speech but about money and politics. It says that if the law was to be overturned, it would free up the churches to receive tax-free donations from any political candidate. As such, it would make the constitutions with huge membership as new money players in politics.