The New Political Neutrality Policy…

… is mostly pretty similar to the old political neutrality policy.

Maybe you heard that on Thursday, the church dropped a revised political neutrality statement. You can find its new statement here.

I was curious how it had changed from the prior version and, as luck would have it, I had created a permalink to the church’s statement on February 25, 2023. (Why? Well, when I wrote my first book, I cited some website and, between citing it and going through to check my citations, it had changed. So now I permalink everything I cite in my books and articles.) You’re welcome to compare the two but, in the interest of making the comparison easier, I also blacklined the two.

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The Significant Moral Consequences of Trump

Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the so-called Johnson Amendment, the provision in section 501(c)(3) that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing or opposing candidates for office. We really don’t know much about the purpose or motivation of the provision: it was introduced by the-Senator Johnson and approved, without debate, by voice vote, so there’s no legislative history explaining its purpose.

The substance of the prohibition is pretty clear, though: to qualify for tax exemption, an organization must do a handful of things and refrain from doing a handful of others. Under the Johnson Amendment, a tax-exempt organization cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

And that’s it: a blanket prohibition on endorsing or opposing candidates. And what are the consequences for an organization that violates the prohibition?

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