The separation of church and state has been in existence since this country was founded. Our forefathers were escaping (among other things) religious persecution. As such, they knew keeping the government out of the church would do more good than harm. In 1954, the Johnson Amendment (named for its sponsor and then-Senator Lyndon Johnson) prohibited churches and other non-profits “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office” per the IRS website.
For Democrats, this is just another pesky rule they could care less about. VP Kamala Harris took time out to tape an endorsement message for Virginia Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. These messages will or have appeared in 300 black churches between this past Sunday and November 2nd as a ploy to swing these votes their way.
Yet these actions aren’t being taken by Harris alone. Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams took to the charge as well, appearing in three separate churches this past Sunday, to urge people to vote McAuliffe in what looks to be the tightest and most-watched race for this election season. McAuliffe himself appeared in a few churches and even Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms found the time to escape the crime-infested city she resides over to appear at three churches in Richmond on his behalf.
When asked about her appearances, Abrams discussed her own proclivities to such actions, but when running for her own office her mother reminded her “politics is always in the church” and her father claimed the bible “is one of the most intense political texts ever written”. These mindsets are incredibly dangerous and unlawful. Politics are in the church in the way we expect to see a President or other elected official in the church, but quite honestly, it’s more grandstanding than anything.
McAuliffe himself may be the worst offender of all. In his visits to these black churches, he wanted to lead the people from the pews to the polls. After hearing his messages first, of course. While the Democrats are throwing caution to the wind here and doing whatever they want, it’s the churches that are in the most trouble over breaking the law. For breaking the prohibition on advocating for a political candidate they could lose their tax-exempt status. Given the nature of these appearances and the knowledge of their plans and content in the video, the church had an opportunity, beforehand, to prevent this from happening.
These actions should be concerning every citizen. For decades, when the election rhetoric got to be too much, church service was the one place you could go and hear a positive message and leave feeling uplifted. You didn’t have to hear the mudslinging between candidates, suffer through horrible ads on tv, or read about the horrors going on in your own community. It was a place of solemn reflection and learning how to be a better person.
If these actions keep continuing from the Democrats, how long until the Johnson amendment is challenged in court and possibly overturned? Will priests, then, be welcoming more political candidates to deliver a ‘special guest sermon’? If history has shown us anything, it is that once people start getting away with something unscathed, they will continue doing it. These actions are, unfortunately, indicative of where we are going as a country, and if it continues, nothing shall be sacred or protected.