From this week’s “Wisconsin Family Connection,” Wisconsin Family Council’s weekly commentary~
I call it the muzzle. Some call it the Johnson Amendment. It’s that IRS rule that restricts churches and pastors from endorsing or opposing a candidate or a party.
Did you know the church didn’t wear this muzzle until 1954? In 1954, Texas Democrat Lyndon Johnson was facing re-election to the US Senate. Two not-for-profit anti-Communist groups were attacking Johnson’s liberal agenda. Johnson retaliated with the force of an incumbent. He inserted language into the IRS code that prohibits not-for-profit organizations, which includes churches, from endorsing or opposing candidates running for political offices. Congress went along with the idea, in spite of the fact that many believed and still believe this prohibition violates the First Amendment.
Whether or not Johnson intended for all churches in America to be affected by his “muzzle” is not clear. Nevertheless, intended or not, the muzzle was slapped on America’s churches, too. And it’s remained firmly in place since then—and we know the rest of the story. Johnson eventually becomes president of the United States and the churches remain sidelined and silenced in some of the most important issues of our day.