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H.R. 781 & S. 264 - Free Speech Fairness Act

H.R. 781 and its Senate companion legislation S. 264, both titled the Free Speech Fairness Act, would repeal the Johnson Amendment to the Internal Revenue Code which bans non-profit groups and churches from engaging in "political" activity.

The Johnson Amendment was passed by Congress in 1954 at the urging of then-Senator Lyndon Johnson. Senator Johnson was seeking re-election at the time and sought to silence two Texas non-profit groups who were favoring his opponent in the Democratic primary that year. His amendment passed with no discussion of its impact on religious organizations. Since that time, however, churches and other non-profit groups have been forbidden from endorsing candidates and other "political" acts.

The vagueness of the Johnson Amendment has had a stifling effect on the free speech rights of priests, pastors, and others. The Free Speech Fairness Act seeks to restore those rights – rights that should be enjoyed by all Americans, not just those sanctioned by the IRS.


The text of H.R. 781 is available at

The text of S. 264 is available at


H.R. 781 was introduced in the House by Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA-1) and Congressman Jody Hice (GA-10). A list of co-sponsors is available at

S. 264 was introduced in the Senate by Senator James Lankford (OK). A list of co-sponsors is available at

Status of H.R. 781

2-1-17 H.R. 781 introduced in the House of Representatives and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Status of S. 264

2-1-17 S. 264 introduce in the Senate.


2-1-17 A press release from Senator Lankford on his introduction of S. 264 is available at

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