EDITORIAL

Abolishment of Johnson tax codes would resurrect religious free speech

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This could be huge. Maybe even bigger than the wall, this may change the face of politics and campaigning in our nation. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had language written into the Republican platform committing to the abolishment of what has become known as the Johnson Amendment of the federal tax codes. It was passed in 1954, under the introduction by then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas and declared that non-profit, tax-exempt organizations are no longer permitted to directly endorse or speak out against individual candidates for public office. Since then, all tax-exempt organizations, including churches and pastors across our land, have been stifled for fear of losing their tax-exempt status.

Furthermore, these tax codes are often the basis for what many incorrectly describe as separation of church and state, a perceived protection of our constitution. When religious organizations attempt to protect basic human rights, family values and protection of the unborn by supporting like-minded representatives, the left cries “foul.” They are wrong. The prohibition against religious organization endorsing candidates is a 60-year-old tax issue, not a constitutional one.

Many would argue that the constitutional protections of free speech and governmental non-interference with the concerns of religion will be restored by the repeal of these laws. If accomplished by the Trump administration, once again the voice of the faithful will be able to speak alongside all others. This is exactly what Roger Williams envisioned when he called for a pluralistic voice of all religions in the directions of our government. It is long overdue that God’s voice be unleashed.