Congressman Jim Banks of Indiana spoke on the House floor May 4th on the need to reform the Johnson Amendment, which limits the ability of faith-based non-profits and churches to engage in free speech and exercise religious freedom.
Banks is a 2016 graduate of Family Policy Foundation’s Statesmen Academy. The program provides rigorous training by experienced Christian legislative leaders, who produce graduates bonded in an enduring fellowship of mutual encouragement and accountability, spiritual strength and political wisdom.
We are so proud of Congressman Banks and the work he’s doing in Washington!
Here is the full text of his speech:
“Mr. Speaker, in light of this morning’s long-overdue Executive Order on religious freedom and free speech, I rise today to thank my colleagues in Congress on their support for a thorough reform of the Johnson Amendment, which has hindered the ability of faith-based non-profits and churches from engaging in free speech and exercising freedom of religion.
Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has given the IRS the broad authority to censor the free speech of pastors, churches and other tax exempt organizations across America.
The IRS’ vague interpretation of prohibited forms of speech under this law has led to uncertainty about what speech constitutes a formal violation.
Furthermore, when the Johnson Amendment was originally adopted, it was passed without debate, committee hearings, or any of the other procedures we use in Congress today.
We need to allow America’s churches, pastors, and other faith leaders to speak freely on all spheres of life, including relevant political candidates and elections.
We need to return free speech back to our spiritual leaders and faith-based organizations without fear of government censorship.
Thank you, Mr. President, for acting to ensure that America’s churches will again be a safe place to discuss all important matters in life. While today’s action is a strong start, there is more work to be done to protect religious freedom in the United States.”