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Pastors and Politics: 6 Misconceptions About the Johnson Amendment

Pastors and Politics: 6 Misconceptions About the Johnson Amendment

1. The Johnson Amendment exclusively targets churches

Most of the debate over the Johnson Amendment has been centered on its effect on houses of worship, with critics arguing that the federal law unjustly attacks churches.

However, as noted by the Internal Revenue Service, the Johnson Amendment applies to all 501(c)(3) organizations, which can include secular groups.

"To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3), and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual," explained the IRS.

"The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization's net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual."

Back in 1954, when then Senator Lyndon Johnson introduced the Amendment, he did so in response to the actions of a non-church entity called the Committee for Constitutional Government.

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