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Ministry Challenges IRS ‘Muzzling’ of Pastors

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Christian Post — Truth in Action Ministries, a Christian national media organization, has been urging members of the public to sign a petition calling for a repeal of the IRS regulation that prohibits pastors from sharing their thoughts on political candidates from the pulpit.

Current federal law gives the IRS authority to investigate and punish churches if pastors publicly endorse a political candidate for office during a church service, a restriction which Truth in Action Ministries believes violates the First Amendment right to free speech. The petition, which seeks support for a measure called H.R. 3600, wants “to restore the Free Speech and First Amendment rights of churches and exempt organizations,” and is being pushed by North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe, spokesperson for Truth and Action Ministries, shared with The Christian Post that the original amendment that banned all nonprofit groups from engaging in election activity was submitted in 1954 by Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, who later became president. Newcombe claimed that Johnson “sneaked in” the proposal, which was quickly voted on and became law without a hearing or public debate, and as a result now all churches across America have to abide by that rule.

The IRS website explains that the bill, known as the Johnson Amendment, “prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one ‘which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.'”

“What we are trying to say basically ‘Hey, enough with this. This doesn’t sit well with the First Amendment,'” Dr. Newcomb shared with CP.

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