5. Seldom Enforced
Despite actions like the aforementioned "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," enforcement of the Johnson Amendment appears to be a rare occurrence.
This has led many church-state watchdog groups to pressure the IRS to enforce its rules. In 2012, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the IRS for not holding churches accountable for violating the Johnson Amendment.
"At the time of our suit, the IRS had not publicly announced any church audits since 2009, when a federal court in Minnesota ruled that an IRS official who had authorized a church audit was not of sufficient rank," stated FFRF in 2014.
"FFRF reached an agreement with the IRS in July 2014 that resolves, for the time being, the issues in FFRF's federal challenge. Specifically, FFRF was informed that since 2010, the IRS has flagged churches involved with political intervention, including churches that submitted materials as part of 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday.'"
Despite the 2014 ruling, Jim Garlow, lead pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, California, told CNN in an interview in 2016 that his regular participation in the ADF endeavor has never produced a response from the Internal Revenue Service.
"We record our sermons, as have many several thousands of pastors, and then send their sermons to the IRS in the hopes of provoking a lawsuit. But we have not been successful," said Garlow.