Churches are brazenly breaking the law and endorsing Republican candidates for office from the pulpit.
Burden’s sermon is among those at 18 churches identified by the news organizations over the past two years that appeared to violate the Johnson Amendment, a measure named after its author, former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Some pastors have gone so far as to paint candidates they oppose as demonic.
At one point, churches fretted over losing their tax-exempt status for even unintentional missteps. But the IRS has largely abdicated its enforcement responsibilities as churches have become more brazen. In fact, the number of apparent violations found by ProPublica and the Tribune, and confirmed by three nonprofit tax law experts, are greater than the total number of churches the federal agency has investigated for intervening in political campaigns over the past decade, according to records obtained by the news organizations.
Churches used to be afraid of losing their tax-exempt status, but since the IRS has given up on prosecuting violations for illegal political activity, right-wing churches have become political rallies with a dash of the Bible on the side.
If anyone is actually interested in solving this problem, the solution is to strip tax-exempt status from a few of the large megachurches that are the worst violators and then watch the MAGA Jesus worship services vanish.
This is a form of illegal electioneering. It is wrong if a church does it for Democratic candidates, and it is just as wrong when conservative churches do it.
The campaign finance laws in the United States have been gutted, and the electoral landscape has become so lawless that even churches are engaging in illegal activity.
At some point, the United States needs to stop giving validity to election conspiracy theorists and start dealing with the real problems that harm our democracy such as the erosion of the separation of church and state.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association