House Committee Rejects Pulpit Politics

"Houses of Worship" Provision Stripped from Corporate Tax Bill

A key committee in the U.S. House of Representatives has rejected an ill-advised attempt to allow church leaders to engage in partisan political activities -- a wise decision to keep the line of separation between church and state firm and bright said Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way.

Led by Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson of Connecticut, a bipartisan majority of the House Ways and Means Committee late last night rejected an attempt to single out houses of worship in the nation’s tax laws, and allow church leaders to endorse political candidates and be involved in political campaigns without losing their church’s tax-exempt status under federal law.

“This would have created a new funnel for tax-exempt money to fund partisan political endeavors for individual candidates -- right through the front doors of a church,” said Neas. “This is a bad idea that just keeps coming up, and it’s good to know that members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle keep joining together to bat it down.”

In response to last week's attempt to attach this “houses of worship” provision to an unrelated corporate tax bill, People For the American Way sent a letter to all members of the House, urging them to defeat it.

The letter pointed out that the measure “would not only entangle religion with partisan politics, but would also engender strife among congregations whose members hold divergent political views. Houses of worship should continue to be community builders and can best do this by retaining their voices as the conscience of society.”

People For the American Way will continue to watch for attempts to bring the idea back to life as new legislation moves through Congress.

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Download PFAW's letter to Congress in .pdf format.619.5 KB
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