Well, the Scottsbluff, Nebr. Star-Herald ran my letter opposing HR 127, which proposes to repeal the Johnson Amendment. I wrote a letter in opposition to my local paper.
I am actually surprised they printed it, particularly after an entire page of letters urging parishioners of local churches to pressure their pastors to preach on the evils of gun control legislation. My letter is the only one in the paper today (so maybe they needed filler).
The letter does not appear on the Star-Herald Website, but does appear in today’s print edition of the newspaper. Below is the text.
It was signed with my name and my position as a member of the village trustees (city council) where I live. They know who to come for now with the pitchforks and torches.
Churches, temples, mosques, and other religious institutions are tax-exempt organizations. The Johnson Amendment specifically prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations from using their tax-exempt status to promote candidates for political office.
House Resolution 127, currently in committee, would repeal that amendment.
The issue is painted as one of free speech, but that is a dodge. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other religious organizations are not required to accept tax-free status.
No other tax-exempt organization may politick on behalf of candidates or parties; by allowing such is to permit an unequal financial advantage to churches over any other non-profit. To repeal this amendment would allow tax-exempt religious organizations to exert undue influence on the secular government of the United States.
As a disabled veteran, I find it abhorrent that the Constitution I defended and supported on behalf of all could be subverted so easily, allowing the de facto taxpayer support of religious organizations to become political mouthpieces.
The separation of Church and State is the best defense our Constitution provides for all faiths, and those of no faith. It prevents the pernicious erosion of our political freedoms in the name of religion. That separation is the precise reason the United States has the most diverse and inclusive religious life of any First World nation.
Those that support this ill-formed bill believe it is their religious organization that will benefit from such religious privilege. They would be just as opposed if it were a mosque or the Church of Satan supporting it. The Roman Catholic Church has by far the most money of any faith group in the USA, thus it seems likely that they would exert the most pressure on government.
The repeal of the amendment would be a particular blow to those twenty percent who identify as having no religious faith: our tax money would be used to permit the religious to support or oppose political candidates and positions. I cannot urge you strongly enough to defend religious freedom for all Americans. Should HR-127 come out of committee, I implore you to write your Representative to vote against it.
Let's see if my house gets burned down tonight. That, and there are more guns than people in town.
I bet they like you James, even if you disagree. They might regard you in the way families regard the eccentric uncle, or as the town unconventional person, but they know you and I bet they think you have a good heart and intelligent mind.
They will save the pitchforks for the straw and hay.
Thank you on behalf of all non-theist. Heck, thank you on behalf of everyone.