The Johnson Amendment Act, Freedom of Speech Gone Wrong
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S.4347/A.623) known as the Johnson Amendment Act into law on October 23, 2019. This new law restricts non-profit corporations from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of or against a candidate running for public office. It further states that
any corporation, association, trust, or community chest, fund, foundation, or limited liability company, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary or educational purposes” may 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
Governor Cuomo justified it by saying,“New Yorkers have a right to free and fair elections, and this law will further protect our democracy from unjustified interferences once and for all.” Mr. Cuomo’s interferences are not the proper description of the church. People misunderstand the meaning of “the separation of church and state. Separation of church and state is to protect churches as organizations from government interference as much as citizens from oppression by the church. The church is made up of individuals whose rights will be infringed on because of their religious beliefs.
It forces members of the clergy to abstain from their civic rights and responsibilities as citizens of the United States of America. Our natural rights should be upheld to ensure that the government does not oppress the people. We should be able to express ourselves completely regardless of our occupation. Speaking from a pulpit or from the lips of a corner preacher, they should have just as much freedom as those speaking from any other corner of our society.
On May 4, 2017, Our President Trump counteracted such legislation by signing an executive order that directs the executive branch to limit its enforcement of the “Johnson Amendment.” The executive order gives the authority to all executive departments and agencies, “to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.” It is noted that the Department of Treasury should not take any “adverse action” against any individual, house of worship or other religious organization because the individual or organization speaks on moral or political issues from a religious perspective if similar speech has not generally been treated as participating or intervening in a political campaign on behalf or against a politician by the Department of Treasury. “Adverse action” includes the imposition of tax, penalties, delay or denial of tax-exempt status and disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to organizations that are exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Code. We thank President Trump, for this and other actions to protect our freedoms of religions, more than any other President in our history.
In closing, it is imperative to stay attentive to the effects of such legislation and there should be noticed, for all other states who try to implement this kind of law, not to stand by idle and indifferent, as if it has no bearing in our houses of worship. This is an article directed to the leaders in the state of New York, and the defenders of freedom, to our neighboring states and to all citizens across America, to stand up and speak out to the defiance that is slowly but surely being pushed down our throats. So, I ask, at what point would we take a position to push back and say enough! What will be our turning point? We are the Body of Christ! We are strong and resilient. Today, it is this, yesterday it was the other, tomorrow if we are not prepared for the battle, what will it be? It is time to wake up Church and speak up for the people.