Repealing the Johnson Amendment

In all the hoopla about how lousy Trump is, a small item rather escaped me:

Why have some religious conservatives decided to support Donald Trump for United States president? Leaders have named their reasons: He’s promised to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices; he’s allegedly good at business. But they have also consistently cited something else, perhaps more unexpected: the tax code.

Trump has promised to repeal the so-called Johnson Amendment, a 1954 provision that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from participating in political activities. Proposed by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and later revised by Congress, it keeps churches and other non-profits from lobbying for specific causes, campaigning on behalf of politicians, and supporting or opposing candidates for office…

In case you ever wondered why no one in politics really pays much attention to what religious leaders say, there’s your reason: money. You might note that unions and various leftwing political groups – some of which are tax exempt – are free to pour money into political campaigns to their heart’s content…but religious groups can’t. This is why, at election time, the concerns of religious people are very much a secondary consideration…why what the union or the corporate PAC wants is paramount; you risk campaign money if you cross a union or a corporate PAC, you don’t risk money if you cross a religion. Repealing the Johnson Amendment would put religious people on the same level as everyone else. And, so, yes: it has to go.

I freely admit that I hadn’t heard of this until maybe a couple years ago – but now that it is brought to mind, I realize that part of the reason that we are ratcheted ever leftwards on social issues is because the prime source of Conservative power on social issues – the Church, the various Protestant denominations, etc – are essentially prohibited from engaging in the battle. It isn’t that there’s no one willing to fight the battle, but there is no one writing a check which makes politicians actually beholden to religious groups (and thus we see so-called Conservative politicians ever finding reasons to leave religious people in the lurch when push comes to shove). Allow religious money to enter the fray, and politicians will serve that money, even if they don’t want to serve the dogmas.

Rather crude, I know – but democratic politics is like that…and it is time for religious people to gain the power to really influence politics.

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16 thoughts on “Repealing the Johnson Amendment

  1. Amazona August 5, 2016 / 11:03 am

    Mark, as far as I can see when it has come to churches openly supporting Democrat candidates the Johnson Amendment has simply been ignored. I remember Obama being a “guest speaker” at black churches, after which the ministers told the congregations to vote for him. I remember similar events involving Bill Clinton. Perhaps the churches have not been able to openly contribute money, but there has certainly been open support, endorsement and even instruction from many churches to vote Democrat.

    Contrast this with the shrill outcry when some Catholic dioceses said those who support abortion should not be able to partake of the sacraments. That is when the Left decided this kind of what they called intrusion into politics should result in loss of tax status.

    Because Congress writes tax law, any “repeal” would have to start in Congress and is beyond the legal authority of the President. Your link ends with the comment that it is highly unlikely Congress would do so. Yet I think a lot of pressure could be brought to bear on the churches which have openly supported Democrat candidates and therefore on Democrat legislators.

    I wonder if Trump would get more traction if he were to follow the lead of Fiorina and others, and talk about a repeal of the entire tax code, replacing it with either a flat tax or a consumption tax. Both of those eliminate tax breaks in most cases, and the Fair Tax doesn’t address income at all, only consumption. (It is my preference because it forces people with undeclared income into the taxation process, and it puts taxation into the hands of the consumer. Don’t want to pay as much in taxes? Buy less.)

  2. Amazona August 5, 2016 / 11:14 am

    BTW, if Trump has “…promised to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices…” he is a Progressive trying to use the judicial system to advance an issue and anyone who has this kind of litmus test for justices is not a conservative.

    The personal beliefs of any justice should be completely immaterial. To a great extent we are in the mess where we find ourselves today because justices were appointed due to the belief they would apply their personal biases to their decisions, and this is simply wrong and violation of the intended role of the Court.

    I remember driving through Denver late one night and listening to a talk show, where the host asked people if they thought recent SCOTUS nominee Roberts’ opinion on abortion made a difference to them. After hearing several say yes, I couldn’t stand it any more and pulled over and called in. When the host asked me that question, I said no. He asked why, and I said because the job of the Court is not to apply the opinions and beliefs of the justices to the cases they hear, but to examine the cases and rule on whether or not they comply with the Constitution. Period. The host’s response was “BINGO !!”. Every single self-styled “conservative” had wanted a justice who would legislate from the bench, just in favor of their favorite issues, and sorry, folks, that’s just Progressivism with a different letter on its lapel.

  3. casper3031 August 5, 2016 / 10:37 pm

    Mark, Sad to see you are starting to back Trump. And yes, if you vote for him you are supporting him. It doesn’t matter why.

    • Amazona August 5, 2016 / 10:44 pm

      Poor Casper, so sad. Why don’t you lay out your take on the options in this election?

    • M. Noonan August 5, 2016 / 11:41 pm

      I would say it is sad to see you backing Hillary – because, well, she’s a criminal and a liar and a cheat and all that…and morally far worse than Trump on his worst day…you know, given that all Trump has done is say the Bad Words, while Hillary’s actions have cost lives.

      That said, I’m not backing Trump – as I’ve said, I don’t know what I’ll do on November 8th…and probably won’t make a final decision until November 8th. If, however, I decide to vote for Trump I’ll own up to it – no hiding for me. There will be a blog post about it. The only thing certain in my future actions is there won’t be a vote for Hillary…you know, because she’s a criminal, a liar, a cheat and all that…

  4. casper3031 August 6, 2016 / 9:27 am

    Calling Hillary a criminal doesn’t make her one. She has never been indicted much less convicted of any crime. As for her actions costing lives, that’s not what the various committees that investigated her found. Besides, you were fine with Bush even though his actions caused thousands of lives.
    That said, the choice isn’t that hard. With Hillary, you have a former senator and secretary of state with a long history of working across the isle to get things done. As for Trump, I refer you too the thousands of words Amazona has written about him over the last couple of months. She makes a pretty good case as to why he is a terrible choice.
    That said if you vote for Trump you are endorsing him. That is your choice.

    • Amazona August 6, 2016 / 10:29 am

      What you don’t get, Casper, is that in spite of all those “thousands of words” I have written about Trump (you Lefties do get your panties in a twist about fast typers, don’t you?) he is still a vastly better candidate than Hillary.

      I don’t know if it is genuine stupidity or just determination to cherry-pick facts, but since Trump’s nomination I have used a lot more words to define and describe major differences between his defects and those of Hillary. I have also made it clear, time after time, that I think he will have far fewer problems as a president than as a candidate. Perhaps you might give that a little thought and try to figure out why I would say such a thing, before attributing too many things to me.

      You inadvertently step in it in your effort to defend Hillary. For example, you point out that she was a Senator—and then skip away briskly without noting that she was (1) a do-nothing Senator with no real accomplishment during her term and (2) made fully aware, as a Senator, of her duty to protect secrets of state to which she was, as a Senator, privy.

      You claim she has a “…long history of working across the isle (sic) to get things done…” Such as? Aside from using her position as Secretary of State to line her own pockets by selling American influence, votes and actual material, just what did she accomplish? Aside from being complicit in the Obama administration plan to illegally provide arms to the Syrian rebellion, thereby putting them in reach of Al Queda operatives, just what do you find so admirable about her work as Sec of State?

      And let’s face it, after the giggling, smirky, juvenile “RESET button” fiasco of Hillary’s in which the word was not even spelled correctly, Trump’s gaffes pale by comparison. At least his are not planned and put together and executed by an agency of the federal government, representing the federal government, in a clumsy political attack on a former president even more clumsily presented as a policy of our State Department and/or new administration.

      I notice that you dodge the questions about Hillary’s ideology, her goals for the nation, her blatant dishonesty, etc.

      I also notice that you fall back on the silliness of BDS. President Bush, acting in the interest of national security, with the approval of Congress and the United Nations, exercised his legal authority as President of the United States and Commander in Chief to go after elements deemed dangerous to the United States. Hillary Clinton voted for this action. Only a total sock puppet of the Left could try to conflate that with sending in a diplomat and security guards to try to cover up an illegal arms deal to protect the administration from embarrassment, getting them all killed. And only a total sock puppet of the Left could ignore the fact that she then put her arms around the parents of the people she got killed and lied to them, repeatedly, to their faces, about why their sons were dead, and promised to frame an innocent man for their deaths.

      While you simper and sneer about people “supporting” Trump, you are supporting and defending a truly and deeply malignant woman with an ideology antithetical to the principles of American government.

    • Amazona August 6, 2016 / 10:31 am

      And if she did try to work with both parties as you try to asset, she would have worked across an aisle, or hallway, and not across an isle, or island, Teacher-Boy.

    • Amazona August 6, 2016 / 10:49 am

      Why don’t you lay out your take on the options in this election?

      Let’s see how well Cappy handled that question. As a Hillary defender and supporter, and as an academic, he ought to have been able to put together a coherent and concise summary of the differences between the two candidates as well as a justification for his choice, wouldn’t you think?

      Let’s see what we got. We got nothing about Trump except a silly effort to drag me into it. We got Bush-bashing—completely predictable, given the source. And we got some drivel about how being in the Senate and then being Secretary of State are, in and of themselves, proof of qualifications to be President, though conspicuously missing any examples of actual accomplishments or missteps.

      What else was missing? Well, there was nothing about illegal campaign contributions, or the pardoning of Puerto Rican terrorists to try to get the PR vote. There was nothing about Pay to Play in her tenure as Secretary of State, nothing about huge “speaking fees” paid to Bill or huge “donations” to the Clinton Foundation followed by beneficial decisions by the State Department. There was nothing about how the Russians got all that uranium in Nevada. For that matter, there was nothing about the pathetically tiny percentage of money that goes into the Clinton Foundation that actually gets spent on anything but Clintons and their buddies. There was nothing about why Chris Stevens was prowling around in Benghazi, much less why his repeated requests for additional security were ignored. There was nothing about lying to the parents of the men killed there, or of the refusal to send in aid when it was known they were under attack (it being seen live as it happened, via satellite). And we got a spin on the bizarre and embarrassing FBI statement that basically said “Well, yes, what she did is considered a crime when anyone else does it, and yes, she did do it, but no, we don’t think this particular person should be held to that standard”.

      In other words, Classic Casper.

      • Retired Spook August 6, 2016 / 12:18 pm

        I’m not the least bit surprised that Casper would support someone with such a sordid background as Hillary. I’m guessing it simply validates something in his own past, much like many who voted for Bill said his serial philandering and reprehensible treatment of women validated their own flawed behavior. It’s pretty hard to find a prominent Democrat politician today that doesn’t have something sordid in his or her background.

      • Amazona August 6, 2016 / 4:14 pm

        Spook, I think you are right. I also think a lot of men refuse to look down on sexual hyperactivity because on one level they admire it and wish they could live that life. I call it the James Bond Syndrome, the first time when a hero was openly casually promiscuous, and also became a role model and icon of desirable masculinity. Then we had Two and A Half Men, with its hero’s whole identity being one of a guy who slept around constantly and with pretty much anyone, and both the TV character and Charlie Sheen were much admired for it.

        What surprises me is not the “Gee I Wish I Could Do That” crowd secretly yearning after similar opportunities and experiences, but the people who simply do not care that highly sensitive information vital to national security was callously made available to even mid-level hackers because the alternative would have been to use secure government sites that are vulnerable to FOIA searches, and which could therefore expose conniving to sell American influence and rulings to the highest bidders.

        We saw manipulation of accessibility to damning evidence play out when Jamie Gorelick, aide to Bill Clinton, erected that wall to make it impossible for various U.S.intelligence agencies to compare data and ideas, to protect Clinton from investigation into illegal campaign donations from foreign nations. Democrats didn’t mind that at all, even when the wall led to intelligence failures that made it impossible for us to head off the 9/11 attacks. Now we are seeing the same ho-hum attitude about even more security lapses which have happened to try to shield yet another Clinton from yet more examples of corrupt and even illegal behavior.

        It’s one thing to say “I don’t really care about sexual promiscuity because deep down I think it’s kind of cool and I would do the same thing myself if I could”. It is one thing to say “I can’t really call someone out on shady business dealings after the kinds of things I have done in my own businesses”. It is something else again, something far more sinister and dangerous, to say “I don’t care if national security is endangered, whether out of greed or ideological fervor, as long as it is done by someone I like”. And this is the message I get from people like Casper.

      • Retired Spook August 7, 2016 / 8:37 am

        to say “I don’t care if national security is endangered, whether out of greed or ideological fervor, as long as it is done by someone I like”. And this is the message I get from people like Casper.

        And what does it say about the character of someone who would broadcast that message. Regardless of ideology, it says to me that he really doesn’t care about right and wrong. As long as the person or persons he favors ideologically do what he deems important, they can break the law all they want and he will run interference for them and apologize for them. That is an extremely undesirable and dangerous trait to have in someone who teaches children.

      • Amazona August 7, 2016 / 12:02 pm

        Remember, this is the “teacher” who declared here his belief that anyone who supports the Constitution as it is written is really supporting slavery and denying the vote to women—though when I wondered how the parents of the children in his classes would feel about learning this about him, his response was to: (1) deny that this is what he believes about the Constitution (in spite of being quoted about saying that very thing, here, in writing) (2) declare that this is not what he teaches the children in his classes (making one wonder why he would teach something he believes is false, or why he would not teach something he believes is true) and (3) to screech that I was “trying to get him fired”—–an acknowledgment that if the parents of the children in his classes were to know how he tries to indoctrinate them he would be fired. (This is all beside the point that his original declaration shows abject ignorance, particularly inexcusable in a “teacher”, as the Constitution never mentions slavery or disenfranchisement of women.)

        Yeah, he’s really a piece of work. His personal dishonesty does support your theory that people hesitate to condemn qualities in politicians that they, themselves, share. Casper has proved to us that he is inherently dishonest and also believes that lying is acceptable if it promotes a political goal. He will prove it again by voting for Hillary.

        The triumph of Identity Politics is that person trumps principle, with the result being the complete abandonment of principle.

    • tiredoflibbs August 11, 2016 / 9:33 pm

      “Calling Hillary a criminal doesn’t make her one. She has never been indicted much less convicted of any crime.”

      Wow, the same can be said for Al Capone. Until he was indicted and convicted for tax evasion, he was never indicted for murder, smuggling, etc. Why?

      Well, like Hillary, Capone had a group of people covering and protecting him from prosecution!!! The Obama Justice has protected Hillary at every turn. The Democrats attack every accuser and protect Hillary every time. The “press” give her a pass – barely covering any scandal and dismiss as the “vast right wing conspiracy”. The FBI found she was grossly negligent in her distribution of classified information, she lied to the FBI and the American people. What happened? Well, Even though she violated federal law in handling classified information, the Justice dept refused to prosecute her (while common Americans have been prosecuted for less in their violation of the same law). She also should have been prosecuted for lying to the FBI (Martha Stewart should have gotten the same deal as Hillary). She wasn’t so much as slapped on the wrist.

      She then comes out and said Comey stated her answers were truthful – which was a blatant lie. Did the press say anything about that whopper? Nope. They rather concentrate on the utterings of Trump.

      Now the Justice Dept is not even going to have the FBI investigate her activities as SOS and her foundation, based on recomendations by officials. Nope, not even going to touch it.

      Hillary hasn’t been indicted because she is innocent as the naive say. But she hasn’t been indicted due to a group of people who have disdain for the rule of law and a complicit media who would rather put a criminal into the White House than investigate for the truth. Al Capone wished he had a criminal machine like the Clintons and the Democrats have.

      • Amazona August 11, 2016 / 11:37 pm

        ““It is the department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized information system, which has the proper level of security controls,” the Office of Inspector General wrote in the 2012 report, referencing the Foreign Affairs Manual provision dating to 2005.”

        BTW, don’t bother trying to look up that Foreign Affairs Manual. In the original article I quoted, there was a link, supposedly to this manual, yet the page cannot be found in the State Department web site.

        Surprise, surprise.

      • Amazona August 11, 2016 / 11:41 pm

        ““Calling Hillary a criminal doesn’t make her one.” No, being a criminal is what makes her a criminal. And calling her innocent doesn’t make her innocent.

        “She has never been indicted much less convicted of any crime.” You made this point very well. Comey read out what sounded like a list of criminal charges, agreed that these usually do constitute criminal charges, and then said the FBI’s opinion was that she not be prosecuted for them.

        Let’s see what Congress does. My Senator, Cory Gardner, said in a newsletter that Congress is going to pursue this.

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