Serving Nonprofits. Strengthening West Virginia.

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.

Update Re: Trump’s Executive Order

On May 4th, President Trump issued this executive order. But the clearest thing about this action is its lack of clarity: the executive order does not repeal the Johnson Amendment, and the legal ramifications for charities and churches is unclear with regard to other applicable legal requirements. Our position remains the same: we nonprofits are trusted in part because we are resolutely nonpartisan. Those who support our work rely on us to use their donations to help our communities, not engage in electioneering. These proposals would benefit politicians and paid political operatives, not the people and communities we exist as nonprofits to serve. We join other nonprofit organizations across the country to encourage Congress to maintain these important distinctions between partisanship and faith and charitable organizations.

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

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