We need your help to convince your Senator to protect the Johnson Amendment and stop any attempt to allow churches to spend secret money in our nation’s elections.
Enter your ZIP code below to find the contact information for your Senator. Below that are two scripts to use for your Senator, depending on which party they’re in.
Once you’ve found your Senator’s contact information, call their office and use one of the scripts below to urge them to vote against any attempt to weaken the Johnson Amendment by including it in HR-1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”. Additional talking points are below.
For Republican Senators
Hello, my name is __________ and I am a constituent of Senator _____________.
I am calling to ask [Senator’s Name] to oppose any attempt to weaken the Johnson Amendment by allowing churches and non-profits to engage in partisan politics. Please do not include this provision in the final tax bill.
The Johnson Amendment ensures that all non-profits and houses of worship play by the same rules. Some people are saying that it silences churches, but that’s just not true. Churches and nonprofits are able to free to speak about political and social issues and many do.
The fact is that the vast majority of churches and religious groups don’t even want to get involved in politics. They don’t want to be pressured to endorse politicians or divide their communities on partisan lines.
I’m urging you to oppose adding this provision to the final tax reform bill because it would destroy the neutrality of churches and other non-profits.
For Democratic Senators
Hello, my name is __________ and I am a constituent of Sen. _____________.
I am calling to ask [Senator’s Name] to oppose any attempt to weaken the Johnson Amendment by allowing churches and non-profits to engage in partisan politics. The House version of the Tax Bill included this provision, but the Senate version did not.
The Johnson Amendment ensures that all nonprofits and houses of worship play by the same rules. Repealing the Johnson Amendment would allow billions of dollars to flow through churches and into our political system with zero transparency and zero accountability. We can’t allow something this controversial and dangerous to sneak through as a hidden provision in the tax bill.
Almost three quarters of Americans oppose allowing churches to get involved in politics. Even the vast majority of religious groups oppose this change. Churches and other nonprofits already have the ability to speak out on social and political issues and do so all the time.
I’m urging you to call your colleagues on the Conference Committee and urge them to protect the neutrality of churches and nonprofits by opposing any attempt to weaken the Johnson Amendment using this tax bill. We can’t risk undermining the foundation of our democracy and opening the floodgates to billions of dollars in dark money pouring into our political system.
Charities and houses of worship are tax exempt because they are supposed to work for the common good, not to support political candidates.
- If we repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment, taxpayers would essentially be forced to subsidize the political campaign activities of churches. Changing the law would also incentivize donations to organizations to support political candidates when the whole purpose of the tax-exemption is to support work that serves the community.
- The repeal or weakening of current law would dismantle the non-profit structure as we know it and fundamentally change the character of tax-exempt organizations.
Houses of worship already have the right to speak out on social and political issues.
- Nonprofit organizations, including churches, are already allowed to speak out on issues that matter to them. Examples: Churches can (and do!) take positions on political issues that they view as important; lobby on legislation and endorse or oppose non-partisan ballot questions; host voter registration drives; and publish candidate questionnaires and scorecards.
- Ministers and nonprofit leaders are free to endorse candidates in their personal capacity or even run for office! What they can’t do is spend non-profit money to do that.
The American people don’t want this change and don’t want churches endorsing candidates.
- Two recent polls have found that more than 70% of voters support protecting the Johnson Amendment. One from Independent Sector found that 77% of independents and even 67% of Republicans support the Johnson Amendment.
- Even a majority of white evangelical Protestants support leaving the law alone.
Repeal of the Johnson Amendment gives even more special treatment to churches.
- Churches and other houses of worship already don’t have to file IRS Form 990 and be transparent about their finances. This rider would allow them, and not secular non-profit groups, to engage in partisan politics.
- It’s unfair to give special treatment to one group and not the other, especially when there would be no transparency and no accountability for the money spent by the churches.
American Atheists joined a coalition of almost a dozen atheist and secular groups in warning Congress against making this change. You can read our joint letter here.
We also signed on to a letter with more than 100 signatories, including many religious groups, opposing the weakening of the Johnson Amendment. That letter is available here.