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Why Churches Cannot Endorse or Oppose Political Candidates

James D. Davidson
Review of Religious Research
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Sep., 1998), pp. 16-34
DOI: 10.2307/3512457
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3512457
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Why Churches Cannot Endorse or Oppose Political Candidates
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Abstract

Churches cannot favor or oppose particular candidates for political office. The ban on electioneering has nothing to do with the First Amendment or Jeffersonian principles of separation of church and state. Instead, the ban is based on a provision in the 1954 tax reform act prohibiting all tax-exempt organizations from supporting or opposing political candidates. I show that the provision grew out of the anti-communist frenzy of the 1950s and was directed at right-wing organizations such as Facts Forum and the Committee for Constitutional Government. It was introduced by Lyndon Johnson as part of his effort to end McCarthyism, protect the loyalist wing of the Texas Democratic Party, and win reelection to the Senate in 1954. I also discuss the implications these findings have for contemporary church policy.

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