For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Washington, DC, Jan. 9, 2017)—The American Humanist Association urges members of Congress to support the constitutional right to the separation of church and state by rejecting HR 172, a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives that would overturn the Johnson Amendment.
The Johnson Amendment is a 1954 law that prevents religious and other tax-exempt organizations from endorsing candidates, lobbying or engaging in other political activities. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a move that garnered him support from many religious right leaders, including Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr.
“Repealing the Johnson Amendment would unleash an opportunity for dark money in politics that can only be described as Citizens United on steroids,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, in reference to the 2010 US Supreme Court ruling that prevented government regulation on corporate campaign spending. “Without the Johnson Amendment, churches could operate like super-PACs by funneling anonymous, tax-deductible donations to political candidates who would support policies that discriminate against the LGBTQ community, restrict women’s reproductive rights and curb the civil liberties of humanists, atheists and other nonreligious Americans.”
Speckhardt continued, “When churches and other faith groups become embroiled in politics, our nation moves dangerously toward becoming a theocracy, not a democracy.”
To educate legislators about the importance of the Johnson Amendment, the American Humanist Association is organizing briefings in both the US House and Senate, scheduled for January 31, 2017, that will feature experts on the topics of religious freedom and campaign finance from the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Freethought Equality Fund.
“True religious liberty upholds the rights of all Americans, no matter their beliefs, to be treated equally by the government,” said Matthew Bulger, legislative director of the American Humanist Association. “We want to remind our legislators of their duty to represent all of their constituents, not just religious special interests, and to support our secular government by protecting the Johnson Amendment.”
The American Humanist Association has successfully opposed the repeal of the Johnson Amendment in previous years and will continue to work to defend the rights of all Americans to be free from religious endorsement in the government.
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.