ADL Deeply Troubled by Passage of Tax Bill That Will Politicize Houses of Worship

New York, NY, November 16, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply troubled and disappointed by the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of H.R. 1, “the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” which effectively repeals the Johnson Amendment. For decades, this amendment has protected the integrity of houses of worship and other non-profit organizations by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, issued the following statement:

In our hyper-partisan society, religious congregations should be a refuge from political divisions. H.R. 1’s repeal of the Johnson Amendment is wholly unnecessary and would harm our nation’s houses of worship.

Under current law, religious institutions can speak out on any political, social or moral issues, but they cannot endorse or oppose candidates for office with tax-deductible dollars.

Undermining the Johnson Amendment’s critical protections will politicize the pews, and foster inappropriate religious entanglement with politics, campaign donations and special interests. It will likely encourage divisive manipulation of religious organizations by campaign donors who are not subject to customary campaign finance laws – a process that could make politicians beholden to religious majorities and darken the transparency of the electoral process.

The Senate’s current version of the tax bill does not contain a similar repeal. It must be resolute on this issue by taking a stand to keep divisive politics out of our houses of worship.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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