The Corner

Politics & Policy

Church, State, and the IRS

Alex Entz believes that the Johnson amendment, a legal provision restricting the permissible political activity of tax-exempt religious organizations, should be kept on the books rather than modified as it is in the House tax legislation. (In keeping with most reporting on this issue, Entz uses the term “repealed” rather than “modified.”) He makes two arguments: Loosening these restrictions could benefit progressives more than conservatives, and too much involvement in politics can prove injurious and even ruinous to churches.

The second point has real force. But it is a point better addressed to church leaders than to legislators. Pastors, priests, and rabbis should consider whether speaking out in an election will gratuitously alienate some of their flock, to mention one of Entz’s examples of the harms that can come from politicized religion. But it’s not the job of Congress, or the Internal Revenue Service, to protect them from making bad judgments.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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