Background information for contacting Senator James Lankford

Sen. Lankford is co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, so he’s not going to be persuaded by arguments that would sway you or me. We need to give him a persuasive reason to stop trying to repeal the Johnson Amendment.

We need you to please let Sen. Lankford know that repealing the Johnson Amendment will hinder religious freedom and lead to government regulation of churches.

As part of their public trust, 501(c)(3)s file financial information with the IRS. Every penny donated and spent is tracked in the Form-990. But churches file nothing. They are financial black holes. Without the Johnson Amendment, any mega-donor could write a check to the nearest church for any amount, earmark the donation for politicking, and take the tax write-off. Churches would become super-PACs. Unregulated, unaccountable, opaque super-PACs. We might even see PACs reorganizing as churches to compete for donors who will give their donation, now tax-deductible, to churches.

Churches cannot operate as unregulated super-PACs if our democracy is to survive, so without the Johnson Amendment the government will be forced to regulate churches. Financial disclosures, donor disclosures (including even regular parishioners and tithe-givers), IRS filings, FEC filings, licensure — the regulatory list for churches will be long and onerous. This will actually endanger religious freedom, whereas now churches enjoy virtually no government oversight.

Freedom From Religion Foundation