For many people, Lyndon Johnson is just a former US president who took over following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, many people miss or are unaware of one crucial detail. While serving as a senator, Lyndon B. Johnson championed a bill that sought to ensure that church money stayed as far away from politics as possible. His efforts saw the passing of what is popularly known as the Johnson Amendment in 1954.
At the time, the amendment did not seem to disrupt anything or make much sense. However, the effect of Johnson Amendment and everything it represents appears to have been thrown out the window. Judging from the recent turn of events, churches and other tax-exempt non-profit organizations will be allowed to pour donations aimed at driving political campaigns for their preferred candidates.
Many people do not understand the importance of the Johnson Amendment. Look at it from this context; in 2015, the donations made to religious organizations by the US citizens was over $119 billion. Contrast this figure with approximately $6.5 billion which was spent in the 2016 election (the most expensive election in the history of US). What are the fears associated with the repeal of the amendment – something that Trump promised during his presidential campaigns? The greatest concern is; once people make church donations, it will become impossible for them to know how the money is used in the end. A massive chunk of the $119 billion could be directed towards conservative political groups,an act that will destabilize the U.S democracy.
In May 2017, the president issued an executive directive discouraging the IRS from enforcing the amendment’s terms. While executive orders do not necessarily accomplish anything by themselves, this is a clear indication that Trump will try to keep his campaign promise of repealing the amendment.
Thankfully, End Citizens United is not taking this lying down. End Citizens United is committed to protecting the Johnson Amendment by all means. The PAC believes that the Johnson Amendment plays a fundamental role in ensuring the separation of the church and state in the United States. The issue could end up in the Supreme Court. Just like in 2010, no one can predict the court’s ruling. Unfortunately, the recent appointment of another conservative to the bench may mean a disappointing and disastrous decision regarding this amendment. Whatever happens, PACs and groups such as ECU have a tough responsibility of ensuring that dark money is kept away from the coffers of political campaigns.
About End Citizens United
ECU was founded to overturn the extremely unpleasant Citizens United decision made by the Supreme Court in 2010. Established in 2015, ECU participated its first election cycle in 2016 with over $25 million in funding. Some of the Democratic candidates that the Political Action Committee has endorsed include Hilary Clinton, Zephyr Teachout, Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Russ Feingold and Jon Ossoff. Read more on wikipedia.com to know more about End Citizens United.