At Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Donald Trump vowed to “totally destroy the Johnson Amendment,” which bars churches and non-profit groups from endorsing or opposing political candidates. This move thrilled many evangelicals who see the legislation as an unconstitutional infringement on religious freedom. But it alarmed others who believe that removing the law would violate the separation of church and state.
Here are five reasons why repealing this amendment is a good idea and consistent with the Constitution.
1. The Separation of Church and State Was Meant to Protect the Church, Not the State.
Many people today believe our Founding Fathers erected a wall between church and state to protect the state from the church when the opposite is true. Interestingly, the phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the U.S. Constitution nor any of our nation’s founding documents. The phrase actually comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut.
Jefferson had worked hard in his state of Virginia to separate the Anglican Church from government so that other religious denominations could operate without government penalty or intrusion. So when Jefferson used the phrase separation of church and state in his letter, he did so to reassure the Danbury Baptists that government, based on the First Amendment, could not regulate their activities.
2. The Johnson Amendment is Unconstitutional.
What the First Amendment actually says is, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech . . .”
In other words, Congress can’t promote one religion over others, nor can it restrict anyone’s religious practices or freedom of expression.
The Johnson Amendment clearly violates the First Amendment by prohibiting pastors and non-profit groups from freely expressing their views of political candidates. And it makes the government the watchdog of the church and religious non-profits, something the Founding Fathers would have abhorred.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The Christian Post
Julie Roys is a speaker, freelance journalist and blogger at www.julieroys.com. She also is the host of a national radio program on the Moody Radio Network called Up For Debate. Her book, Redeeming the Feminine Soul: God’s Surprising Vision for Womanhood, is available for pre-order at major bookstores.