During the markup of the House GOP Tax Reform bill, an amendment was introduced to the committee by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to keep the Johnson Amendment as part of the U.S. tax code. The Johnson Amendment currently prevents 501(c)(3) organizations, organizations like churches that are tax exempt, from engaging in political activities.
Under the current House GOP Tax Reform bill, there is a provision that would repeal the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment, named after former President Lyndon B. Johnson, which became part of the tax code in 1954, does not allow 501(c)(3)s to endorse political candidates. Some Democrats fear what may become of America's religious institutions and country if the amendment were to be repealed. While some concerns may be justifiable, other fears are taken to ridiculous heights.
Rep. Ron Kind, a Democratic congressman from Wisconsin, advocated for the amendment to stay. Rep. Kind fears the repeal of the amendment as he says repealing "has the potential of tearing the very fabric of our communities."
Rep. Kind continued:
Repealing the Johnson Amendment will politicize the pulpit. It will create civil war in the pews. It will establish Republican and Democratic churches, and synagogues, and mosques overnight. We all know it. We all know how tribal and how polarized our political system is today. We are self-segregating way too much already; with who are we deciding to affiliate, what clubs we join, what family members we even like to hang out with these days given our political affiliation...
While some may agree with parts of Rep. Kind's sentiment, few may agree with his next statement.
To summarize his feelings on the repeal of the amendment, Rep. Kind said, "You politicize the pulpit, it's going to make the Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East look like a picnic."
Repealing the Johnson Amendment is going to result in political sectarian violence on a greater level than seen in the Middle East? The two sects of Islam, Sunni and Shia, have been slaughtering one another for centuries as the two ideologies compete for political power in countries throughout the Middle East. While Congressman Kind may disagree with repealing the Johnson Amendment, if it were to happen, he should have a little more faith in the American people. This rhetoric is fear mongering and, as he stated seconds earlier, may further polarize our political system.
Watch Rep. Kind's statement below.