(New York Times) When President Trump told an audience of religious leaders on Thursday that he would ‘destroy’ the Johnson Amendment, he declared his intention to sign a bill that would fundamentally alter a major aspect of the church-state divide that has been a constant in American politics for generations.
But what exactly is the Johnson Amendment?
A restriction for churches and nonprofits
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It is one of the brightest lines in the legal separation between religion and politics. Under the provision, which was made in 1954, tax-exempt entities like churches and charitable organizations are unable to directly or indirectly participate in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate. Specifically, ministers are restricted from endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. If they do, they risk losing their tax-exempt status.
Considered uncontroversial at the time, it was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican. Today, however, many Republicans want to repeal it.