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Letter to editor: Johnson amendment necessary


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We must support our separation of church and state tradition in order to prevent religious-based ideological civil war. We must maintain the “Johnson Amendment” that guards against these potential civil wars.

People from religion-based groups gather to worship their God and develop their faith, not support politicians or their ideologies.

Desolation of the Johnson amendment would allow clerics and other spokepersons from religious-based, not-for-prophet groups to endorse a political candidate or his/her ideology, thus creating an atmosphere for enhanced conflict among the faithful followers of these religious-based organizations.

Desolation of the Johnson amendment would not only pit one religious tradition against the other, it would fracture the faithful within their own religious tradition. Instead of building cooperation among the faithful who promote values documented in their sacred texts and sacred tradition, it would enhance fracturing among the faithful.

In 1954, Congress passed the Johnson amendment.The Johnson amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code that prohibits all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Section 501(c)(3) organizations are the most common type of nonprofit organization in the United States, ranging from charitable foundations to universities and churches. The amendment is named for then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas.

I have personally witnessed the conflict in an institutional religious-based group when a cleric preached support for a politically motivated ideology. People exited the gathering and proclaimed, “If I wanted to hear the news, I’d have stayed home and watched TV.”

Therefore, we must maintain the separation of church and state in the Johnson amendment because it prevents fracturing among the faithful.

— Annamarie Marcalus 

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