Simon Brown posted this, as he left five years with Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
…, I am especially saddened on a personal level by Trump’s repeated promise to repeal something called the “Johnson Amendment,” which was added to the federal tax code in 1954 thanks to the support of then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas). The amendment is intended to keep churches from endorsing or opposing candidates for office so that houses of worship do not turn into tiny political action committees that raise money for politicians.
There goes the last line separating organized religion from politics. Maybe tRump will have himself declared divine, as ancient Roman emperors did.
This has become topical again: an effective repeal of the Johnson Amendment is buried in the Republican tax "reform" bill that just passed the House (HR 1). Sec. 5201 originally applied just to churches, religious orders, and such, but was amended to apply to all 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofits. That's a coverup, not a fix.
Many pastors want the Johnson Amendment to remain, so they won't face pressure by wealthy donors to endorse or oppose particular candidates from the pulpit.
Let's also remember that churches (and other houses of worship) don't have to file Form 990. Unlike with other nonprofits, we don't know who gives them money, or how much they get, or where it goes. Every church in America could become a political weapon, a channel for anonymous dark money.
(I'm sure the oligarchs would be just fine with that!)
The requirement to file Form 990 was what David Silverman and American Atheists were going after with the recent suit they sadly lost. If memory serves, the reasons cited were predictably vague in maintaining churches' lack of fiscal responsibility. That is one suit which needs to be tried again, almost certainly in a different venue, but it needs to be pushed.
As of April 23, 2018, attempts to repeal the Johnson Amendment have been taken out of bills before either the House or Senate votes on them.
I can tell you that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is fighting tooth and nail to maintain the Johnson Amendment as law, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Americans United is similarly involved, though I don't know for certain.