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The Johnson Amendment, hopefully to be removed.


by Steven Stebenne

The Johnson Amendment wasn’t very controversial when it became law, but it has become more so in recent decades, especially among some of the evangelical churches strongly supportive of the Republican Party. Even so, repeal of the Johnson Amendment was not high on the religious right’s list of legislative objectives in 2016. The impetus for this change appears to have come from Donald Trump himself, in response to his discovery that churches of that kind were inhibited by the law in advocating directly for his election. Like some of Trump’s earlier remarks in other, related areas, advocating for the end of the Johnson Amendment reflects a view of church-state relations that is different from the one the courts have usually embraced since the 1960’s. To President Trump, America is “a nation of believers,” whose free-speech rights ought to be sacrosanct……


 What, then, is the real significance of President Trump’s recent statement on this subject? More than anything else, it appears to reflect his determination to signal his administration’s support for religious institutions generally, even if the specific way of doing that doesn’t seem likely to succeed, or, if it does, to produce the outcome he seeks. What Donald Trump appears to want, above all, is to restore the central place of religion in the public sphere, which has seen less of it in recent decades. Finding broadly acceptable ways of accomplishing that goal remains, however, a daunting challenge for him and his supporters. Read the full article