Nonprofits back preserving limits on political endorsements

Nonprofits back preserving limits on political endorsements

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“The repealing of this amendment adversely impacts the whole premise of what nonprofits are formed to do,” said Donna Murray-Brown, president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association. “They are mission-driven and have a purpose.

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Daniel Billingsley, vice president of external affairs at Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, said there have been three-dozen instances of the IRS investigating a church or nonprofit for violating the Johnson Amendment.

“This is not something common because most nonprofits, congregations and denominations don’t endorse candidates. They have people on both sides of the political aisle,” Billingsley said. “We absolutely do not endorse candidates. We can talk about issues like abortion, family planning or LGBTQ issues all day long. Our line in the sand is endorsements.

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Henry Bogdan, director of public policy at Maryland Nonprofits, said it’s his understanding that while individual bills are being introduced, the larger danger is having the repeal forced through if it’s embedded in a tax package.

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That concern prompted more than 4,000 nonprofits to sign off on a 52-page letter in opposition to the repeal that was sent to President Trump last month.

“Our message is that it’s not just religion, it’s the broader nonprofit community,” Thompson said. “Even before that letter came out, a poll showed that 72 percent of the public said ‘don’t even think about touching the Johnson Amendment,’ and 89 percent of Evangelical associations were not taking a position on the legislation.”

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