A Wisconsin Democrat predicts America will delve into a religious war if the current Republican tax plan becomes law, likening the ramifications of the proposal to the deadly Sunni-Shia Islam conflict that dates back more than a century and continues today.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind addressed a House committee considering the legislation’s repeal of a provision that prohibits nonprofits from engaging in political activities, and alleged that “… of all the policy changes that are being attempted in this Republican tax bill, this one frightens me the most because it has the potential of tearing the very fabric of our communities.”
The tax plan, he claimed, will “politicize the pulpit” and launch the country into a bloody religious war.
“Every Sunday morning when I go to my South Beaver Creek Lutheran Church in rural western Wisconsin with my family, I view that place as a sanctuary for my soul, an opportunity for me to commune and to congregate, get together with my fellow rural neighbors in fellowship, to check up on one another, to see who is doing well, who could use some help,” Kind said, “and to spend some time as a community and as a nation, regardless of political affiliation.
“Repealing the Johnson Amendment will politicize the pulpit. It will create civil war in the pews. It will establish Republican and Democratic churches and synagogues and masques overnight,” Kind continued.
“We all know it,” he said. “We all know how tribal and how polarized our political system is today. We are self-segregating way too much already. Of who we are deciding to affiliate. What clubs we join. What family members we even like to hang out with these days given our political affiliation.
“You politicize the pulpit, it’s going to make the Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East look like a picnic,” Kind went on. “There will be conflicts in the streets here overnight.”
Also, the children.
“We’re going to be driving the children of our families away from organized religion,” Kind alleged.
Other folks, of course, see things differently.
The Brown Political Review recently published an editorial titled “Kill the Johnson Amendment.”
“Enacted without fanfare in 1954 at the behest of then-Senator Lyndon Johnson, it empowers the IRS to strip 501(c)(3) organizations (a category including most religious groups and many secular charities) of their tax-exempt status if they contribute to specific political campaigns or initiatives. That ban covers everything from fundraising for political action committees to endorsing candidates for office, preventing nonprofits from engaging in direct political intervention except to assist movements totally unconnected to candidates,” the Review’s John Metz wrote.
“An accident of history, the Johnson Amendment is blunt and ineffective as a weapon against money in politics, and downright un-American as a weapon against religion in politics that limits constituents’ ability to give voice to their conscience. Congressional leaders on both sides of the partisan aisle should commit to ensuring that 2017 is the year it dies.”
“The only thing threatening to ‘pervert’ American religious practice is the government dictate that bans religious groups from speaking out against what they perceive as injustice,” he added. “An apolitical religion that fails to grapple with metaphysical truth because it is afraid of the taxman is a dead religion.”
Discussions on the tax plan are expected to continue in the House Ways and means Committee this week through Thursday, when committee chairman Rep Kevin Brady told The New York Times he expects it to move quickly to the House floor.