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Religious Organizations and Political Campaigns

Congressional Action
112th Congress (2011-2012)

In 1954, Congress amended the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit intervention in political campaigns by organizations that are exempt from paying federal income tax, including churches and other religious organizations.  If such organizations engage in political campaigning, their tax-exempt status can be revoked.  This prohibition has sparked strong objections from some who claim that it is, in effect, an abridgement of their right to freedom of speech. 

Legislation introduced in the 112th Congress:

    • H.R.3600: An Act to restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations by repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.
      Sponsor: Representative Walter Jones, Jr.
      Introduced on December 7, 2011

      Summary: Amends the Internal Revenue Code to repeal the prohibition against churches and other tax-exempt organizations participating in political campaigns or supporting or opposing candidates for public office.

Information on proposed legislation can be found on the Library of Congress website: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php