Ex­pla­na­tion Sought

Kent County News - - OPINION -

To the ed­i­tor: It was brought to our at­ten­tion that sev­eral churches and Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal groups in Kent County are spon­sor­ing a “rally to cel­e­brate the right to vote,” and, con­se­quently pro­mote Demo­cratic can­di­dates.

As our Demo­cratic friends in Kent County are prob­a­bly aware, un­der the IRS code, all sec­tion 501(c)(3) or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing churches may not “par­tic­i­pate in, or in­ter­vene in (in­clud­ing pub­lish­ing or dis­tribut­ing of state­ments), any po­lit­i­cal cam­paign on be­half of (or in op­po­si­tion to) any can­di­date for po­lit­i­cal of­fice.” 26 U.S.C. Sec­tion 501(c)(3). This pro­hi­bi­tion ap­plies to any and all can­di­dates for fed­eral, state and even lo­cal elec­tions. (See IRS Reg­u­la­tions, Sec­tion 1.501(c)(3)-1(3) (iii))

The lan­guage in­serted in 501(c)(3) is known as the John­son Amend­ment passed in 1954, with the ex­plicit pur­pose of pro­hibit­ing houses of wor­ship of en­dors­ing po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates.

How­ever, un­der the same fed­eral tax law, churches may en­gage in non­par­ti­san cam­paign ac­tiv­i­ties, as voter ed­u­ca­tion, or non-par­ti­san voter reg­is­tra­tion drives, ed- ucate church mem­bers on leg­isla­tive and po­lit­i­cal mat­ters, or in­tro­duce po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates as long as all can­di­dates seek­ing the same of­fice are given an equal op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate, and the church does not en­dorse any par­tic­u­lar can­di­date.

It is ironic, to say the least, that the same peo­ple who feel threat­ened by the re­peal­ing of the John­son Amend­ment, claim­ing that the amend­ment has been in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing non­profit char­i­ta­ble sec­tor as one of the only plat­forms of non­par­ti­san civic en­gage­ment, would or­ga­nize and spon­sor an event in a Ch­ester­town church specif­i­cally de­signed to pro­mote the Demo­cratic plat­form and en­dorse a Demo­cratic con­gres­sional can­di­date who is run­ning against Repub­li­can Con­gress­man Andy Har­ris.

We hope that our Demo­cratic friends would pro­vide us with a most needed ex­pla­na­tion. Ta­tiana Crois­sette Kent County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee

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