Donald Trump’s hour and fifteen minutes of rage filled, dry throated yelling last night was by far the scariest nomination speech I have ever heard. It was full of all kinds of red herrings, bogey men and divisive rhetoric. There was however one part that really made the hairs on my neck stand straight up:
An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views.
I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans. We can accomplish these great things, and so much else – all we need to do is start believing in ourselves and in our country again. It is time to show the whole world that America Is Back – bigger, and better and stronger than ever before.
Trump is referencing the Johnson Amendment, a legislative amendment passed in 1954 and authored by then Senator Lyndon Johnson. The amendment banned tax-exempt houses of worship (and all 501(c)(3) non-profits) from engaging in political practices. Now Trump wants to reverse that, and he isn’t alone. It’s also part of the GOP platform.
But what does this mean? Well for starters, it means churches can essentially become PACs. The subsection 3 of the 501(c) rules of the IRS is what currently prevents that, but Trump (and the GOP) wants to get rid of that.
And if that doesn’t bother you, consider this. In numerous areas of our country, churches are used as polling places. Imagine going into the church down the street to vote, that has been pushing the candidate or issue you are against. You think we have problems with trust in our system of democracy now? Just wait!
When you put this together with all the other things Trump and the RNC is pushing, you quickly realize that they no longer believe in democracy, but rather want to see the United States become a fascist theocracy. That should scare the living hell out of all of us.