September 09, 2016

Trump Pushes End to Ban on Endorsements by Charities

Donald Trump has made lifting a decades-old ban on churches and charities publicly supporting political candidates a centerpiece of his appeal to evangelical voters, The Wall Street Journal writes. The Republican presidential nominee is expected to raise the issue anew in an address to a conference of “values voters” in Washington Friday.

Mr. Trump has contended that religious groups are “silenced” by the Johnson Amendment, legislation sponsored in the 1950s by then-Sen. Lyndon Johnson that banned endorsements by tax-exempt organizations. Many conservative pastors flout the restriction in election years, openly politicking from the pulpit in hopes of provoking an Internal Revenue Service challenge, and African-American churches often provide a platform for Democrats.

The IRS has largely ignored the rule, launching only two audits against churches since 2009. Proponents of the law say rescinding it would make churches and other charities conduits for what amount to secret, tax-deductible campaign contributions.