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"
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.