MCN Opposes President's Johnson Amendment Executive Order

On May 4, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order with the goal of effectively repealing the Johnson Amendment. Legislative action is needed to actually repeal the Johnson Amendment, but there is legislation proposed and as a non-profit, you need to know why this is an important issue that will directly impact your organization and the sector as a whole. Here are five important points:

  1. The discussion around the Johnson Amendment is being framed as a religious liberty issue, but it actually applies to all 501(c)(3)s. 

  2. This executive order intends to grant permission to speak on “moral or political issues from a religious perspective…” But 501(c)(3) organizations — which includes religious organizations — are already allowed to engage in advocacy, including some lobbying, in support of such positions. 

  3. The Johnson Amendment does prohibit electioneering – which is more about supporting or opposing specific candidates – and that’s a good thing! If the Johnson Amendment is repealed, all 501(c)(3)s will face pressure to support or oppose specific candidates as a quid pro quo for government funding or other support.

  4. Most concerning: 510(c)(3) tax-deductible donations should not go to influencing an election. Some 501(c)(3)s would be set up to funnel anonymous tax-deductible money into influencing elections, undercutting the well-deserved public trust of 501(c)(3)s. 

  5. MCN opposes any changes to the Johnson Amendment – including attempts to relax provisions, create exemptions or carve outs.  

MCN urges all 501(c)(3)s to contact their congressional representatives and ask that they reject these proposed changes and instead prioritize the many other issues impacting our communities. Importantly, most legislators support the Johnson Amendment or haven’t really thought about it that much – they need to hear from you! Similarly almost all religious leaders and nonprofit organizations support the Johnson Amendment and believe it should stay in place. 

If you have additional questions about the Johnson Amendment, please contact Rebecca Lucero, Public Policy Director at


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Comment by Susan Buechler on Monday, May 15 2017 at 6:25 PM


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