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Nonprofit Nonpartisanship (the Johnson Amendment) Under Attack, Again

Thursday, March 8, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jennifer Blair
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Take Action

We are writing everyone who signed the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship to once again ask you to take action to help push back against efforts to politicize the charitable, religious, and philanthropic communities.

Congressional leaders are, right now, writing the bill to fund the government through the rest of the current fiscal year. This “must pass” bill is attracting many controversial issues – like anti-Johnson Amendment language – that would not pass as free-standing bills. Congressional leaders are negotiating today and over the next few days decidingwhat will go into the bill.

Last year, the White House and some well-funded special interests aggressively lobbied Congress and came dangerously close to repealing the Johnson Amendment, the longstanding law that protects charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations from demands from candidates for public office and their operatives for endorsements and other partisan activities. The only thing that stopped them from prevailing was strong and united opposition by Americans who rallied to demand that Congress keep the rancor of partisan political electioneering out of our charities, houses of worship, and foundations. The Community Letter that your organization signed was a big factor in that victory.

Those seeking to politicize 501(c)(3) organizations are back, vowing to have their way and trying to attach their anti-Johnson Amendment languagetothe mammoth spending bill working its way through Congress right now. All individuals who care about the integrity and effectiveness of a nonprofit’s mission need to take action to protect the Johnson Amendment and tell Congress not to change this vital and longstanding law.

Take Action Now

You can help keep partisan politics out of the charitable, religious,and philanthropic communities by working to defeat efforts in Congress to repeal or weaken current protections in the law (the Johnson Amendment). We urge you to take the first two actions below immediately, and then any of others you have time to do:

1. Call your Senators and Representatives: Tell them, “The vast nonprofit community strongly supports the Johnson Amendment, the longstanding law that protects charitable organizations, houses of worship, and foundations from caustic, partisan politics. We expect you to oppose any attempt to attach a rider to the omnibus spending bill that would repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment. Nonprofits are counting on the [Representative/Senator] to preserve nonprofit nonpartisanship.” Feel free to add on a more personal appeal, sharing what repeal of the Johnson Amendment would mean for your nonprofit and the people it serves in the state or theRepresentative’s district.
How to Make the Call: Simply call the Capitol switchboard (202-225-3121) and follow the automated instructions to reach the offices of your Representative and Senators. NOTE: Studies show that phone calls to congressional offices are the most effective means of constituent advocacy – so make the calls first before taking other actions.

  1. Spread the Word: The well-funded groups working to repeal the Johnson Amendment are activating their extensive networks, so we must do the same. Encourage your co-workers to pick up the phone, then your board members, then your nonprofit’s supporters, then other nonprofit colleagues and networks you are a part of, then your friends and family, then anyone else you can think of. We need to immediatelyflood congressional phone lines.
  1. Tweet your Representatives and Senators: Find your Representative and Senators and send this message to her/him. (Be sure to start with a period before the politician’s handle):

    .Representative’s/Senator’s Twitter Handle No anti-Johnson Amendment rider on the omnibus spending bill. #Nonprofits are effective because they focus on #CommunityNotCandidates. Maintain #JohnsonAmendment

    Here are some additional sample Twitter images for you to use or to give you inspiration.
  1. Write an op-ed or letter to the editor of your local newspaper. An article doesn’t have to be in the biggest newspaper in the state to get the attention of Representatives and Senators. They studiously read the clips from all their local papers, including from the small and weekly publications, and especially when their names are included in the articles. Newspapers have published the views of hundreds of people from charitable nonprofits, houses of worship, and foundations who have written in support of the Johnson Amendment and the importance of nonpartisanship. Take a look at a sampling of op-eds and letters to editors from across the country.
  1. Encourage colleague organizations to join you in signing the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship by forwarding this message to them and asking them to sign as well. More than 5,700 charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations have joined this letter in calling on Members of Congress to oppose “efforts to weaken and/or repeal the current law that for six decades has successfully protected the integrity and effectiveness of charitable nonprofits and foundations by keeping them apart from partisan politics.” You can also download the Community Letter addressed to your specific Representative and Senators, make copies and email them to your elected officials with a note about why nonpartisanship is so important to your organization and the people you serve. Find your Representative’s and Senators’ email addresses.

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