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Hey, Tony Perkins and Fox News, the Johnson Amendment Does Not Stop Pastors or Churches From Preaching Religious Beliefs

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EDITORIAL: Stop Misinforming Americans: Part One

Tony Perkins and Fox News teamed up Thursday morning, just after President Donald Trump at the National Prayer Breakfast promised to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, to misinform viewers about what the law does and does not do. While no one should be surprised the leader of a certified anti-gay hate group would be embraced by Fox News, it was an offensive display of the miseducation of America.

The Johnson Amendment, named for then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, is a half-century old law prohibiting churches, religious institutions, and some non-profits from endorsing political candidates. 

What it does not do is stop them from preaching their faith, from endorsing or opposing political or social issues, contrary to what Perkins and Fox News just claimed.

So, if a preacher, rabbi, priest, pastor, imam, or other religious leader, or even the CEO of a faith-based non-profit wants to denounce same-sex marriage, or even claim homosexuality is a sin, they can do that, with no concern the IRS will strip away their tax-exewmot status. And that’s really what this is all about: money. Many churches and other religious non-profits have become multi-million and multi-billion dollar corporations, thanks in part to the fact that they and their employees often pay zero taxes.

That tax-exempt status costs tax-paying citizens well over $80 billion a year. In other words, every man, woman, and child in America on average pays about $250 a year extra in taxes so churches don’t have to. More, actually, if you deduct the people who are tax-exempt.

Some say it’s a small price to pay for freedom of religion, but the religious right that opposes the Johnson Amendment want their cake and they want to eat it too – and they want taxpayers to pay for it.

So they lie, and they turn to platforms like Fox News to help them misinform Americans.

Here’s what a Fox News host said about the Johnson Amendment today:

“It essentially makes most churches and religious leaders feel that their hands are tied, that if they express any endorsement of any particular religious position or party pr person who’s running for office that they risk their tax-exempt status.”

Perkins immediately supported the Fox News host’s false statement, saying, “correct.”

It’s not.

Notice the word “feel.”

There law, which is very readily accessible on the IRS’ website, makes very clear what the rules are. And those who oppose the law most know that the IRS has almost never stripped a religious entity’s tax exempt status for violating the Johnson Amendment – and perhaps they should start.

For a decade this statement has lived on the IRS’ website: “…these organizations can engage in advocating for or against issues and, to a limited extent, ballot initiatives or other legislative activities.”

Also not correct is the claim of “most churches and religious leaders.” In fact, in light of President Trump’s announcement that he will “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, which represents thousands of Southern Baptist Convention churches and individuals nationwide – one of the largest religious groups in the nation – issued a statement denouncing the president’s intention:

“Politicizing churches does them no favors. The promised repeal is an attack on the integrity of both our charitable organizations and campaign finance system.

Inviting churches to intervene in campaigns with tax-deductible dollars would fundamentally change our houses of worship. It would usher our partisan divisions into the pews and harm the church’s ability to provide refuge.

To change the law would hinder the church’s prophetic witness, threatening to turn pulpit prophets into political puppets.”

They know that repealing the Johnson Amendment is a sure-fire way to impoverish churches, especially smaller ones who struggle to stay afloat. 

But that’s really why Trump wants to repeal the law: he wants the cash to fuel his re-election, which he has already filed for.

Trump is no great Christian warrior. He is using the cause of “religious liberty” to line his campaign treasury and to get votes. How very un-Christian.

 

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OPINION

‘Unmitigated Disaster’: Conservatives Stunned by ‘Clinically-Insane Trump Speech’

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The fourth and final night of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee on Thursday is being panned by pundits, political strategists, grassroots voters, and even some in the press, as many express shock and condemnation over Donald Trump’s presidential nomination acceptance speech, or, as one critic put it, the “clinically-insane Trump speech.”

Chris Wallace, the former long-time Fox News anchor turned CNN commentator declared he was “disappointed,” and suggested Trump’s 90+ minute speech (transcript) helped President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign.

Trump’s speech got off to a good start, Wallace said, but after awhile the GOP nominee, “couldn’t keep up the act, and so we started hearing about ‘crazy Nancy Pelosi,’ and cheating on elections, and talking about Biden. Frankly, it was a long speech, it was a rambling speech, it was a speech by an older man and I couldn’t help but think that the people who are going to be happiest tonight are not the people at Trump headquarters, but the Democrats, maybe at Biden headquarters, maybe at the headquarters of the people who think they are going to replace Joe Biden, but Jake, we have ourselves a presidential campaign again.”

READ MORE: ‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale reported Trump delivered at least 22 “falsehoods” during his remarks, including that when he left office, “the world was at peace.”


Even The New York Times, which critics say has often ignored or whitewashed Trump’s worst remarks and weaknesses while focusing on President Biden’s – to the point of calling for Biden’s exit but not Trump’s – ran this headline overnight, invoking the ex-president’s 2017 inauguration speech: “Trump Struggles to Turn the Page on ‘American Carnage’.”

“On the last night of the G.O.P. convention on Thursday, Donald J. Trump promised to bridge political divides, and then returned to delighting in deepening them,” the paper of record reported.

Meanwhile, conservatives – former Republicans and current, Never-Trump Republicans – led the criticism on social media Thursday night and into Friday morning.

The Lincoln Project’s Stuart Stevens, a top political strategist and former Republican, panned Thursday night’s GOP convention: “A man who beat his wife introduced a Republican nominee found liable of sexual assault the judge called rape. And the Republican Party thinks it’s great.”

“I’ve watched thousands of political speeches in thirty years in the business. This was by far the worst,” observed Mike Madrid, the Latino GOP political consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder, calling it “an unmitigated disaster.”

“Is anyone else seeing this with their own eyes?” Madrid asked on social media, referring to Trump’s speech. “Maybe, just maybe, this is what independent voters saw at the debate.”

“The [media’s] gonna call for his withdrawal after witnessing this obvious cognitive decline right?” Madrid also asked.

READ MORE: ‘Democratic Machine’ Strategists Behind Move to Oust Biden: Ex-Congressman

He summed it up in one word: “Fiasco.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Denver Riggleman declared: “Media should demand Trump step down based on mental issues and incoherence.”

Fred Wellman, the former Lincoln Project executive director had a few words for top Democratic donors dissatisfied with President Joe Biden: “Hey Democratic big donors! Shut up and get back to work. Jesus. We are going to beat this loser like a drum.”

“The View” co-host Ana Navarro-Cárdenas, a Republican who opposes Donald Trump wrote: “If this clinically-insane Trump speech does not get Democrats out of their defeatist doldrums, and focused and energized around electing their nominee -instead of tearing him down- I don’t know what will.”

She added, “And you all are screaming that Biden has dementia….?”

Former Republican Rick Wilson, an award-winning political TV ad expert and Lincoln Project co-founder decimated Trump’s speech and invoked the nominee’s top campaign chiefs:

“Trump’s speech was, objectively, the single worst convention acceptance speech in modern history. It was a ramblefuck disaster from start to its long-delayed finish, and nothing is going to make it better. You know. I know it. LaCivita and Wiles know it. Utter disaster.”

Former Republican U.S. Congressman Joe Walsh added, “And one more thing: I don’t want to hear anyone in the media talk about Biden’s cognitive decline without also talking about Trump’s cognitive decline. Thanks.”

Republican Sarah Longwell, a political strategist and publisher of the conservative news and opinion site The Bulwark, commented throughout Trump’s speech.

“What would [you] say this speech is about?” she asked toward the end. Minutes earlier she remarked, “Rambling man.” And: “I dunno, this weirdo seems pretty beatable.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Have to Stop This Psychopath’: Conway Launches PAC Focused on Trump ‘Mental Instability’

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‘Stop the Attacks’: 1400 Black Women Leaders Demand DNC Support Biden and Harris

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Amid reports of multiple top Democrats telling President Joe Biden he should end his reelection campaign, largely based on polling, more than 1400 Black women leaders and allies have sent Democratic Party leaders a letter demanding they support Biden, the presumptive nominee, and his running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris.

Calling the efforts to oust President Biden “unjust and undemocratic,” the letter states: “The Biden-Harris Administration is running on a solid record of historic legislative accomplishments and a commitment to finish their agenda to improve the lives of all Americans, protect our rights, freedoms and democracy. Further, we believe it is unfair and disruptive to judge President Biden for having a bad 90-minute debate performance against a serial liar who wants to destroy our democracy and be a dictator-in-chief.”

“Now is the time for the Democratic Party to stop the attacks against their own presidential nominee that ‘we the people’ voted for and focus on defeating the real threat to our democracy and that is Donald Trump,” they say.

READ MORE: ‘Democratic Machine’ Strategists Behind Move to Oust Biden: Ex-Congressman

The Hill reported on the letter Thursday afternoon.

No political affiliation was indicated.

Its signatories include attorney Keisha Lance Bottoms, the former Atlanta mayor and former Biden Director of the Office of Public Engagement, and former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black American woman elected to the Senate.

The letter also states the women “are writing to share our deep concern and dismay at the lack of unity being displayed by some of our elected democrats and Democratic Party leadership, who are not standing firmly and resolutely for the re-election of President Joseph Biden and his running mate, Vice President Kamala Harris.”

“During the primary election process held across the country earlier this year, 14 million Americans cast ballots for President Biden and Vice President Harris. They are the duly elected democratic party nominees for the 2024 Presidential election. We reject all efforts to disregard this fact or to circumvent the will of millions of voters who participated in a democratic process. The primaries held earlier this year were the appropriate time to challenge candidates for the nomination and press arguments about qualifications. The suggestion that any candidate who won their primary should simply step aside because victory appears difficult at the moment is disrespectful to the voters, unjust and undemocratic.

READ MORE: ‘Have to Stop This Psychopath’: Conway Launches PAC Focused on Trump ‘Mental Instability’

A small selection of other signatories include:

Political strategist and former acting DNC chair Donna Brazile

Former NAACP national president Hazel Dukes

LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter

Actress and producer Vivica Fox

Attorney CK Hoffler, former Chair of the National Bar Association

Star Jones, former co-host of “The View”

Tennessee state Rep. Karen Camper, the Democratic Minority Leader

Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, Chief Operating Officer of the National Council of Churches

North Carolina State Senator Kandie Smith

Regina Goodwin, Oklahoma state Rep. from 2015 to 2024, now state Senator-elect

READ MORE: ‘Wake Up People’: Trump ‘Elevating Criminals’ as MAGA Wants to ‘Wreck America’ Says Expert

 

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‘Democratic Machine’ Strategists Behind Move to Oust Biden: Ex-Congressman

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Former Republican U.S. Congressman David Jolly says the people trying to push President Joe Biden out of the 2024 election are not the voters but the “Democratic Machine,” political operatives like strategists and pollsters, and he warns that the “Biden coalition” is not just “transferable” to another candidate.

“What they have done is kneecap their own nominee,” Jolly, no longer a Republican, said Thursday on MSNBC. “And so is it past the point of no return? Maybe? Maybe not.”

Revealing he spoke with “someone exceedingly close to the President himself just last night,” Jolly says, “the message was very much what you heard from Quentin Fulks, nothing had actually changed.” Fulks is the Biden-Harris Principal Deputy Campaign Manager.

He says “the final chapter” of the effort to oust President Biden came “yesterday with the Adam Schiff release. Adam Schiff, somebody who will win his Senate race by 30 points had no reason to comment on this race, like [Senators] Jon Tester in Montana or Sherrod Brown in Ohio,” who are at risk of losing re-election.

Schiff on Wednesday publicly called for President Biden to exit the race.

READ MORE: ‘Have to Stop This Psychopath’: Conway Launches PAC Focused on Trump ‘Mental Instability’

“They had Adam Schiff use his political capital, because he can lose ten points by walking the plank a bit on this, and then they increase leaks around Speaker Pelosi and around Schumer and then the Obama story today.”

He added, “we can quickly dismiss polls and we should, but at the same time, they reflect a certain sentiment. Many Democrats are concerned, they’re worried, and so the Democratic machine will say, ‘look, three out of four Democrats want him out.’ But again, the head to head says, ‘Well, if he’s still our guy, still our guy. and we’re going all the way.’ ”

Jolly continued, saying, “there are voters that are going to be angry about what the machines are doing and here would be my biggest caution to the Democrats that are pulling off this fix: The Biden coalition is not fully transferable. The Biden coalition emerged out of the anti-Trump coalition. And what Democratic operatives believe today is that the anti-Trump coalition will be enough that whomever succeeds Biden can beat Trump. I don’t know that that’s the case. Because there are enough independents and unaffiliated voters who are proudly part of the Biden coalition today, who as you just pointed out, are watching the Democratic machine say that Democratic voters, ‘your voice doesn’t matter. ‘That’s hard to attract people back to the Democratic coalition after you implode.”

Jolly concluded, “the party is controlled by the machine. They controlled the machine to nominate Biden, and now they’re using the machine to control his exit. And my point is the members of the Biden coalition that performs, the non-Democratic Biden coalition members, are now looking at this saying, ‘what is different about a Democratic machine that controls the outcome, everything, versus a Republican machine that controls it?’ I agree. I think the fix was in before and I think the fix is in now.”

READ MORE: ‘Wake Up People’: Trump ‘Elevating Criminals’ as MAGA Wants to ‘Wreck America’ Says Expert

 

 

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