Johnson Amendment of 1954



Was the 1954 Johnson Amendment aimed at Discriminating against Black Civil Rights Leaders?

Yes. Churches were completely free to and did preach about Black Civil Rights from the day that the Constitution was ratified in 1788 until 1954. The Johnson Amendment was added to the tax code in 1954 to threaten Black Civil Rights leaders with loss of tax exempt status for their churches if they used their churches to organize Black Civil Rights demonstrations. The Johnson Amendment is discriminatory and is still in effect and should be removed immediately.

Why churches cannot endorse or oppose political candidates:

The History of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, It’s Relationship to Jefferson’s Wall of Separation View, It’s Unconstitutional Nature and It’s Remedy in Law – HR 235

By Barbara Ritchie Pond

Pulpit-320x212The First Amendment clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,”

A History of the Johnson Amendment of 1954 and Its Violation of Rights, Protected by the Bill of Rights within the U.S. Constitution – Amendment 1

In 1954, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, faced fierce re-election opposition from anti-leftist groups and conservative Christians. He successfully changed the IRS code, prohibiting non-profits and churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Such language was a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the law of the land which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” Johnson’s IRS insertion was then, and is now, a violation of our individual rights of freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. Prior to this time, no restrictions on the free speech of church entities and their members existed. This is all condoned under a false view of Jefferson’s so-called “wall of separation” doctrine.

There are many reasons why the 1954 Johnson amendment violates the Constitution. Here are some of the key reasons why the amendment is unconstitutional:

• The amendment violates the Establishment Clause by requiring the government to excessively and pervasively monitor the speech of churches to ensure they are not transgressing the restriction in the amendment. The amendment allows the government to determine when truly religious speech becomes impermissibly “political.” The government has no business making such decisions.

• The amendment violates the Free Speech Clause because it requires the government to discriminate against speech based solely on the content of the speech. In other words, some speech is allowed, but other speech is not. The Supreme Court has invalidated this type of speech discrimination for decades.

• The amendment also violates the Free Speech Clause by conditioning the receipt of a tax exemption on refraining from certain speech. Put simply, if a church wants the tax exemption, they cannot speak on any and all issues addressed by Scripture. This is an unconstitutional condition on free speech.

• The amendment violates the Free Exercise Clause because it substantially burdens a church’s exercise of religion. The government does not have a compelling reason to burden religion in this way.

Churches have too long feared the loss of tax exempt status. Rather than risk confrontation, pastors have self-censored their speech, ignoring blatant immorality in government and foregoing the opportunities to praise moral government leaders. Pastors who long to be relevant to society, to preach the Gospel in a way that has meaning in modern America, often studiously ignore much that goes on in politics lest they draw attention of the IRS.