Nonprofit Nonpartisanship Under Attack
The West Virginia Nonprofit Association joins the National Council of Nonprofits and other charitable organizations in opposing any effort to repeal the Johnson Amendment.
For more than 60 years, an important provision in the federal tax code has successfully protected charitable nonprofits, religious congregations, and foundations from being hounded by politicians, political operatives, and paid political consultants seeking financial contributions, endorsements, and more. That provision (pejoratively called the “Johnson Amendment” by partisans) is being threatened by both President Trump, who vowed at the National Prayer Breakfast that he intends to “get rid of and totally destroy” the protection, and legislation in Congress seeking to completely repeal (H.R.172) or substantially weaken it (S.264; H.R.781). Those promoting the three bills couch them as attempts to promote religious freedom. But the bills would have the effect of politicizing and thereby erasing the public’s high trust in charities, religious congregations, and foundations to benefit politicians and paid political consultants.
The National Council of Nonprofits issued a statement expressing “strong opposition” to these changes. “Nonpartisanship is vital to the work of charitable nonprofits. It enables organizations to address community challenges, and invites the problem-solving skills of all residents, without the distractions of party labels and the caustic partisanship that is bedeviling our country. Indeed, current law is the reason that charitable nonprofits are safe havens from politics, a place where people can come together to actually solve community problems rather than just posture and remain torn apart.” The WVNPA agrees and supports the position of the National Council of Nonprofits and other national organizations and state associations who have signed on to fight the weakening or elimination of this important protection.
A Call to Action
Is it too much to ask that the charitable nonprofit and foundation community be respected and protected as the safe space from the damaging effects of partisan politics? The immediate answer from scores of 501(c)(3) leaders so far – and potentially tens of thousands of organizations – is – No, it is not too much to ask that nonpartisanship remains a cornerstone principle of what it means to be a charity or a foundation. By signing onto the Community Letter in Support of Nonpartisanship, charitable nonprofits, private foundations, religious groups, and their vast numbers of supporters can send a clear signal to Congress and the Administration that partisan politics has no place in the 501(c)(3) community. Join others from across the country to show that we intend to resist any and all efforts to weaken or repeal this longstanding protection in federal tax law that keeps 501(c)(3) organizations away from endorsing, opposing, or contributing to political candidates. Join the WVNPA in signing onto this letter today to send a clear signal to Washington that nonpartisanship is vital to the work you do in your community.
We will continue to inform you about the latest updates on this important issue. In the meantime, visit the links below to learn more.
Protecting Nonprofit Nonpartisanship, National Council of Nonprofits
Why Is Remaining Nonpartisan So Important…And So at Risk Now?, National Council of Nonprofits
Protecting Nonprofit Nonpartisanship Infographic, National Council of Nonprofits