The Republicans’ tax bill would let ministers endorse political candidates

By Julie Zauzmer

The tax bill proposed by House Republicans on Thursday includes a proposal to modify the Johnson Amendment, the 63-year-old law prohibiting politicking by churches that has been a favorite target of conservative Christian groups and of President Trump.

The Republicans’ bill would make it legal for ministers and other religious leaders to endorse candidates from the pulpit but stops short of allowing other political participation such as financial contributions from churches to campaigns.

The bill stipulates that a religious institution wouldn’t be found to have violated the law “solely because of the content of any homily, sermon, teaching, dialectic, or other presentation made during religious services or gatherings.”

That’s the protection that some religious leaders, mainly conservative Christians, have requested for years in the name of “pulpit freedom,” even though the Internal Revenue Service has almost never penalized clergy for the content of a sermon.

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