The Republicans haven't given up.
The very first day of the new House session, two bills introduced: (neither dealing with the fiscal problem they were supposedly elected to solve). This stuff will not end if you don't involve yourself - you must write your Congress-critters and let them know you do not accept religiously-motivated legislation.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) introduced a bill to establish that life begins at fertilization, The Sanctity of Human Life Act (H.R. 23). One of the 18 current cosponsors is former Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced a bill to repeal the 1954 Johnson Amendment (H.R. 127) thereby allowing churches and exempt organizations to explicitly endorse political candidates.
I clicked "like" not because I "like" the bills, but to give a bit more attention to this post. Even though the bills may or may not make it out of committee, our congresscritters should know that these religiously-motivated bills, curtailing reproductive freedom and granting special rights to churches, are not acceptable in a secular democracy.
Project Vote Smart ( http://votesmart.org/ ) makes it easy to find contact info for your elected officials, as well as other information, including key votes and collected ratings from a broad range of advocacy groups.
I wouldn't mind allowing the churches to speak about politics ... so long as they are NOT tax exempt.
A Dem should introduce a bill with a shorter title "To restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches" that basically makes all church activity and property taxable just like any other business.
In order to follow the spirit of previous tax exempt rationale, they can be allowed to form separate non profit organizations strictly for their charitable works, which are then fully regulated like all other tax exempt organizations with open books and reporting requirements.
Of course, any church that wants to be politically active now, is free to give up their tax exempt status and thus be free to speak their mind.
The other glaring problem with H.R.127 and its approach to solving the church's free speech problem, is that it would allow ALL non-profits to be politically active, and also, it would allow any politically active group to form as a non-profit and become tax exempt thus making political contributions tax exempt.
That's actually a really great idea. NPOs need to be transparent, and churches need to be included in that. And the wording is great, too. Very Washington. ;)
I composed an E-mail to the local paper Saturday urging the folk to consider what repealing the Johnson Amendment might actually mean.
They did not run it.
What they did run was an entire page of letters from people propounding if their pastors do not oppose gun control legislation from their pulpits (the exact sort of politicking the Johnson Amendment is designed to prevent), that parishioners should find different churches, and a large type boilerplate piece from the NRA on the evils of restricting the sale of large-size clips, ammunition to adults only, and plumping again for a national data base of the mentally ill.
Perhaps I used too big of a set of words. The other letters read like: Pastor preaching against gun control good, baby layettes with banana clips good, five year olds prohibited from buying ammunition bad. (Yes, five year olds can buy ammunition in Nebraska without an adult present.)
My letter (to the Scottsbluff, Nebr. Star-Herald) read:
Churches, temples, mosques, and other religious institutions are tax-exempt organizations. The Johnson Amendment specifically prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from using their tax-exempt status to promote candidates for political office.
House Resolution 127, currently in committee, would repeal that amendment.
The issue is painted as one of free speech, but that is a dodge. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other religious organizations are not required to accept tax-free status.
No other tax-exempt organization may politick on behalf of candidates or parties; by allowing such is to permit an unequal financial advantage to churches over any other non-profit. To repeal this amendment would allow tax-exempt religious organizations to exert undue influence on the secular government of the United States.
As a disabled veteran, I find it abhorrent that the Constitution I defended and supported on behalf of all could be subverted so easily, allowing the de facto taxpayer support of religious organizations to become political mouthpieces.
The separation of Church and State is the best defense our Constitution provides for all faiths, and those of no faith. It prevents the pernicious erosion of our political freedoms in the name of religion. That separation is the precise reason the United States has the most diverse and inclusive religious life of any First World nation.
Those that support this ill-formed bill believe it is their religious organization that will benefit from such religious privilege. They would be just as opposed if it were a mosque or the Church of Satan supporting it. The Roman Catholic Church has by far the most money of any faith group in the USA, thus it seems likely that they would exert the most pressure on government.
The repeal of the amendment would be a particular blow to those twenty percent who identify as having no religious faith: our tax money would be used to permit the religious to support or oppose political candidates and positions. I cannot urge you strongly enough to defend religious freedom for all Americans. Should HR-127 come out of committee, I implore you to write your Representative to vote against it.