End Citizens United, a grassroots political action committee, is making the public aware of threats to the US democracy. The latest threat is the rider attached to the House Financial Services appropriation bill that forbids the IRS from using funds to investigate violations of the Johnson Amendment, an amendment introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson when he was a Democratic Senator in 1954 and signed into law by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The law was designed to prevent churches and other non-profit organizations from donating large amounts of money to political candidates and was based on the Constitution’s principle of separation of church and state.
When churches and other non-profits ignore the law, their tax exempt status is revoked, as happened with the church who took out a full page ad in USA Today telling Christians to vote against Bill Clinton in 1992. Churches are being instructed to ignore the amendment by movements such as Pulpit Freedom Sounding which was organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom. In May, President Trump signed an executive order that instructed the IRS to no longer enforce the Johnson Amendment. Instead of making an attempt to repeal the law, Republicans are adding it to other legislation in an attempt to get it through without drawing attention to it.
Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United, said that without the protection included in the Johnson Amendment, churches would become tools for secret, tax-free campaign spending that allowed contributors to receive tax deduction for their political donations. End Citizens United, founded in 2015, has continuously been in the trenches battling against big money in politics and its attempt to buy democracy to serve its own ends. The 2010 Citizens United vs FEC decision that gave corporations the same rights as individuals, interprets money and donations the same as freedom of speech rather than an attempt to influence the outcome of elections. End Citizens United is working to protect the Johnson Amendment and the protection it offers to the US democratic process.
End Citizens United is working to fix the campaign finance system and the influence of big money by its grassroots effort that is funded by thousands of supporters from around the country, including over 100 churches. It will continue to bring the issues that affect the US democracy into the national conversation and before the eyes of those who believe and are fighting for the rigged system to be fixed.