Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Not on the football field, but...

Did you know that the House Tax Bill rolls back the Johnson Amendment?

The Johnson Amendment, championed by LBJ when he was a Senator, prohibits religious groups and all 501 C3 non-profit and non-taxed groups from taking part in partisan politics--not in issues but in openly supporting particular candidates. Churches can discuss political issues but not openly endorse from the pulpit.

It's a horrible idea. I try not to be political in my role as a priest, though everyone knows I'm a yellow-dog Democrat. I don't tell them they should be too. That's as it should be. There are supporters of the President in the churches I serve. I must minister to them without label or politics, just as I must minister to anyone who disagrees with me, personally, about any thing. Plus, I love being with people who don't agree with me--that's much better than only being with the like minded. It is the way the family of the church--just like our biological families should be--'related' even when we disagree. Family first.

The Congressional Budget Office has suggested that if non-profits could make political donations--for example--it would cost the federal government at least $2.5 billion a year. People who give money to politicians (money that is taxed) would funnel it through non-profits and even get a tax deduction from the contribution.

And repealing the Johnson Amendment would politicize churches and non-profits. Instead of St. Luke's and St. Gregory's we'd have Episcopalians for Democrats and Episcopalians for Republicans.

I heard a woman on radio describe how her grand-father, a devout Protestant and Republican, rose and left their church back before the 1960 election when the minister told the congregation from the pulpit not to vote for a Catholic. He only went back when the minister apologized "from the pulpit" and told people to vote their conscience. Her grandfather voted for Nixon, but he believed in a deep-down-Constitutionally-valid way in the separation of Church and State.

I do too--to the bottom of my heart.

If churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other places of worship want to get involved in endorsing candidates and giving money to campaigns they should hand over their tax-exempt status.

Conservative Evangelicals can rage all they want about stopping abortion and not letting gays marry (just as I can rail about a woman's right to choose and GLBT equality)--but we can't, under the IRS's rules under the Johnson Amendment 'endorse' candidates that support our views from the pulpit.

That is as it should be. And should remain. God and Common Sense prevailing....

(God will ultimately prevail...I'm not so hopeful about Common Sense these days....)

Pray, beloved, I guarantee you don't want me telling you who to vote for....

I guess 'political statements' aren't ok on the football field but are fine from the pulpit!

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.