Let's Fix This Country
tax notes

One That Didn’t Make It, Amen

Yet another of President Trump's promises to his base, not that it was requested, was to "totally destroy" the 1954 Johnson Amendment that forbids churches and other non-profits from promoting or opposing political candidates on penalty of losing their tax-exempt status.

The House pulled a fast one by obligingly putting repeal of the amendment in its tax bill, as if it by some twisted logic church sermons met the "reconciliation" rules explained above. Fortunately, there is the "Byrd rule", added in 1990 to the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, which disallows tacking on "extraneous" provisions that do not deal with fiscal policy. Repeal of the Johnson Amendment was struck from the final bill accordingly.

But Trump will be back. This is to be "my greatest contribution to Christianity", he says. Except that Christianity hasn't asked for it. Among evangelicals, 3 of 4 don't want their religion to be profaned by politics. Trump has shown no religious leanings in his life, nor much zeal for the Constitution (see "Will the Rule of Law Survive Donald Trump?"). The principle of keeping government and religion separate for him seems to be a nuisance blocking his path. Of greater importance for him and his adopted party is to engage pastors in election campaigns. If they at some point succeed, we can expect to see unrestrained (even tax deductible!) contributions — not just local, but even from out of state — to evangelical pastors in return for their telling their congregations how to vote.

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