Fortress of Faith is happy that President Trump has fulfilled a campaign promise to block the Johnson Amendment. This legislation has been used by liberals as a billy-club for many decades to restrict the free speech of Pastors of America. We hope that Congress will step up to the plate to write legislation to fully end this encroachment of free speech. We also pray that Pastors of America will become courageous leaders and bring biblical teaching into the political arena. Our congregations desperately need to know the biblical position on the issues of our time.
Lyndon Johnson, facing a tough re-election to the Senate in 1954, slipped a rule into the tax code to deter two fierce anti-communist groups from taking advantage of their nonprofit status to attack him. It is called the Johnson Amendment, and although no one has ever been prosecuted based on this amendment, it has been used to scare pastors and keep them from preaching the biblical perspective on political issues.
There were two religious organizations, not churches, who were opposing Johnson in is run for his second term in the Senate. Since before the founding of America, and up to the time Johnson got this amendment passed, churches were very active in the political issues of our nation. This is what gave us our freedoms and what kept our nation reasonably righteous. Our Bill of Rights came from the pulpits of America, not from politicians.
Our churches sought for, and backed, the political candidates that stood for righteous precepts. The muzzling of the pastors of America is one of the major causes of the decline of our nation.
The Johnson Amendment limited non-profit organizations, including churches, in their freedom of speech. There were two things that they were restricted from doing. They could not raise money for a political candidate, and the organizations could not publicly endorse a political candidate.
Even though there were these two restrictions, there was still a lot preachers could say about political issues. Pastors, as individuals, could endorse candidates, but the church as an organizations could not. A lot of preachers got confused about this, and there was much misinformation put out on the subject. As a result, many preachers believed that they could not talk about political issues at all or they would lose their tax exempt status.
Many churches are structured so that the loss of their tax exempt status would be disastrous for them financially. It would mean that they would lose their properties and be unable to fulfill their ministries. Pastors coward away from political issues.
President Donald Trump signed an order blocking enforcement — delivering on a key promise to religious conservatives who helped deliver him to the White House and who had long viewed the Johnson Amendment as a way to gag pastors from weighing in on elections. He learned about this during the campaign, and he was shocked that pastors could not speak out against some of the political issues. He said:
“In America we do not fear people speaking freely from the pulpit. We embrace it … We are giving our churches their voices back.”
An executive order does not permanently put this issue to rest. We need to see Congress have the courage to permanently remove the amendment. Presidents don’t make law, they execute law. This executive order is only a temporary thing, Congress needs to step up to the plate and pass a law to fix this issue.
I am afraid that even with this restriction removed, preachers will not have the courage to speak out on the evil things being done in America. I have mentioned the result of a Brana Research study that showed that 90% of the pastors in America believe that the Bible deals with the political issues of the day like abortion, same-sex marriage, Islam, etc., yet only 10% of them preach on them. This means that 90% of pastors don’t preach the whole counsel of God.
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27)
When these pastors were asked why they don’t preach on these issues, many of them said it was because of fear of losing ther tax exempt status. They had been falsely educated on the issue.
Some pastors have actually challenged the amendment and sent their sermons to the IRS to get them to come after them. Nothing was ever done because they know that the Johnson Amendment would not stand up in a court of law, especially at the Supreme Court level. The only thing that has kept preachers quiet is the illusion of a threat.
I really believe that this whole Johnson Amendment issue is nothing but a smoke screen for many pastors to hide behind. I believe that most pastors in America are cowards. They are afraid to rock the boat and get anyone upset. They fear people rather than God. They are more afraid of losing their salaries and fancy buildings than the really are of losing their tax exempt status. They are man pleasers rather than God pleasers.
Let me end by saying that we, here at Fortress of Faith, are glad the the President has taken this step, but we really want to see Congress make this permanent.
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