HR 235 - Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (2005)

(Religious Tax Exemption)

The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act (HR235) will do exactly what its title implies -- give religious leaders the freedom to express their opinions about important political, moral and cultural issues our nation faces. Since 1954, religious leaders -- ministers, priests, rabbis, and clerics -- have been unable to speak their minds on political matters because of then-Senator Lyndon Johnson.

Johnson took to the floor of the Senate and, with no debate and off the Congressional Record, introduced and passed a floor amendment banning any speech in a house of worship deemed "partisan."

Today, a minister who discusses abortion, tax cuts, an elected official's behavior, or any other topic that even remotely hints of politics runs the risk of having the IRS strip the church or synagogue of its tax-exempt status.

In other words, Johnson's amendment uses the IRS to infringe upon free speech in our houses of worship. This bill will return the First Amendment right to our houses of worship, which they had prior to 1954!

UPDATE:  This bill has languished for a couple of years now.  The last action in Congress was taken on January 4, 2005, when it was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.