LBJ

Surprise! New York Times frames Johnson Amendment 'explainer' in pure Kellerism

Surprise! New York Times frames Johnson Amendment 'explainer' in pure Kellerism

It's a given, isn't it, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It seems also a given that The New York Times will drench itself in Kellerism -- the emerging journalism doctrine that says many moral, cultural and religious issues are already decided, so there's no need for journalists to be balanced in their coverage.

The paper moved at warp speed to "explain" -- and I use that term loosely -- a promise made by President Donald J. Trump at the 65th National Prayer Breakfast on the morning of Feb. 2 in Washington, D.C. The vow was that the 1954 amendment to the tax code known as the "Johnson Amendment" would be "destroyed" during his term.

So what is this Johnson Amendment? And why is it a hot-button issue?

Never fear: The New York Times is here to Explain It All For You:

It is one of the brightest lines in the legal separation between religion and politics. Under the provision, which was made in 1954, tax-exempt entities like churches and charitable organizations are unable to directly or indirectly participate in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate. Specifically, ministers are restricted from endorsing or opposing candidates from the pulpit. If they do, they risk losing their tax-exempt status.
Considered uncontroversial at the time, it was passed by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Republican. Today, however, many Republicans want to repeal it.

Wwweeellll, sort of. The Internal Revenue Service, which monitors the activities of tax-exempt groups, including churches, specifies that the rules apply to "all section 501(c)(3) organizations" and not just churches, mosques or synagogues. In other words, the reference to "entities like churches and charitable organizations" is a bit on the vague side of things.

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