For Immediate Release
Contact: Amy Couch, 202-238-9088, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington D.C., December 15, 2017)–A victory was won today for those who support church-state separation and electoral accountability. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced that the provision of the tax bill, which would have gutted the Johnson Amendment, was blocked from being included in the final legislation to be unveiled today.
“The Johnson Amendment ensures our nation’s churches and other charities aren’t converted into political action committees to be used by the mega-wealthy to buy elections,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Today, theists and nontheists alike can celebrate the success of our collaborative efforts to retain this critical protection.”
A provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, the Johnson Amendment specifically prohibits religious organizations and other 501(c)(3) organizations from supporting or opposing candidates for elective public office. Since churches and other religious tax exempt organizations receive tax deductible donations and don’t have to report their finances, removing this restriction would mean that individuals could funnel anonymous funds to political campaigns that are subsidized by tax payers.
Speckhardt added, “While this immediate danger to our democracy is past, we must remain vigilant. Not only is this legislation not yet finalized, but there are other legislative attempts underway that would also weaken the Johnson Amendment, and thereby entangle religion and government while turning over the reigns of government to the highest bidder.”
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, DC, the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other nontheistic Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
Special thanks to the Louis J. Appignani Foundation for their support of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center