National Council of Nonprofits Statement on Religious Freedom Executive Order

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#CommunityNotCandidatesTim
, President & CEO of the National
Council of Nonprofits
, the nation’s largest network of charitable
nonprofits, issued the following statement in response to the Executive
Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty:

“With the stroke of a pen, the President has unleashed the polarizing
rancor of partisan electioneering on charitable nonprofits, religious
institutions, and private foundations and the people and communities
they serve. Despite the labeling, the portion of the Executive Order
regarding the Johnson Amendment has nothing to do with free speech or
freedom of religion. And, contrary to President Trump’s assertions at
the signing ceremony, the Johnson Amendment has nothing to do with
talking about policy issues of the day – it only prevents 501(c)(3)
organizations from partisan electioneering by participating in “any
political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for
public office.”

“We are a country of laws, not a country that tolerates a wink and a nod
from a partisan official telling the IRS to effectively ignore laws
properly passed by Congress decades ago. The U.S. Constitution does not
empower a President to line-item veto a few lines from longstanding law
(in this case, the so-called “Johnson Amendment” that protects 501(c)(3)
nonpartisanship) that his political allies find inconvenient.

“Americans are fed up with endless and polarizing partisan
electioneering. Candidate Trump promised that he would “drain the
swamp,” but through this stroke of his pen President Trump has dragged
America’s charitable, philanthropic, and religious organizations down
into the mire and muck of raw partisanship that has bedeviled our
country for too long.

“That part of the Executive Order will undermine the effectiveness and
integrity of the broad nonprofit community by injecting doubts and
suspicions regarding ulterior partisan motives of charitable and
religious organizations, as undoubtedly will occur if even just a few
organizations engage in partisan politicking. People looking to
501(c)(3) organizations for services, whether it is a warm meal, a roof
over their head, inspiration through the arts, or counsel from a
religious leader, should not have to consider which candidates those
leaders might urge them to support or oppose. The same goes for people
who wish to donate, volunteer, or work to support a nonprofit’s mission.

“There can be no doubt that the vast majority of charitable nonprofits,
including religious institutions, and foundations support the
longstanding law that protects them all from demands to intervene or
participate in electioneering for or against candidates for public
office. In recent weeks, letters have been sent to Congressional leaders
by nearly
4,500 charitable, religious, and philanthropic organizations and
for-profit businesses
– from all 50 states and collectively
representing tens of thousands of organizations – and from almost
100 religious and denominational institutions
expressing how vital
nonpartisanship is to their work and calling on Congress to keep this
important protection in place.”

Also see the National
Council of Nonprofits testimony
– including the sincere
observations from more than 100 individuals about how harmful such a
change in this longstanding law would be – filed with the House
Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

About the National Council of Nonprofits

The National Council of Nonprofits (Council of Nonprofits) is a trusted
resource and proven advocate for America’s charitable nonprofits.
Connecting the policy dots across all levels and branches of
governments, the Council of Nonprofits keeps nonprofits informed and
empowered to create a positive public policy environment that best
supports nonprofits in advancing their missions. Working with and
through the nation’s largest network of nonprofits – with 25,000-plus
organizational members – we identify emerging trends, share proven
practices, and promote solutions that benefit charitable nonprofits and
the communities they serve. Learn more at


National Council of Nonprofits
Rick Cohen, 202-962-0322