The Johnson Amendment Violating Our Constitution And Our Rights

The Johnson Amendment Violating Our Constitution And Our Rights:  In today’s episode, we talk with Jody Hice who is restoring free speech to pastors with the Free Speech Fairness Act so that we can get rid of the Johnson Amendment. Tune in now to learn what the Johnson Amendment is, why the Johnson Amendment is violating our Constitution and our rights, and how we can stop it!

Air Date: 04/19/2017


Guests: Jody Hice, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


Listen:

Download: Click Here

Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers.  Additionally, names may be misspelled because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Welcome

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture, this is WallBuilders Live! We’re glad you’re with us today! We’re talking about these hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always looking at it from Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premiere historian. Also, Tim Barton, president of WallBuilders. And my name’s Rick Green. I’m a former Texas state rep.

Find out more about all three of us and the organization at our websites WallBuilders.com.  Our main website, it’s new.  It’s got all kinds of great features. Go check it out! WallBuilders.com

And then also WallBuildersLive.com.  That’s our radio website. You can get archives to the program over the last few months. If you want to dive into some of those Good News Fridays and get a good pick me up and some positive news, or those Thursday programs on Foundations of Freedom where we dive into those foundational principles, or the interviews we typically do from Monday to Wednesday. That is all right there on the website at WallBuildersLive.com

Our Five Rights In The First Amendment

We’re here with David and Tim now, will have an interview later in the program. But kind of like a Foundation of Freedom Thursday, we’re going to talk about one of those constitutional freedoms called free speech.

David:

Yeah, free speech is one of the five rights protected by the First Amendment. Constitution does not give rights, it protects rights.

Rick:

Good catch.   There is a big difference.

David:

It’s a big deal. And so those five rights that are given by God and protected by government, the five that are there in the First Amendment very few people know them these days. Matter of fact, the stats are only 1 out of 1,000 can name the five rights in the First Amendment. So, Rick, are you one of the thousand?

Rick:

I hope so!

David:

Let’s see.

Rick:

I hope so, and I’ll tell you it’s actually a poll that got my interest in doing celebrate freedom week, was this idea that only one in a thousand could name all five. And I think it’s like five percent can name two of the five and then about 40 percent can name one and usually, it’s that free speech that we just mentioned.

David:

Yeah, they can get free speech but when they go to the other four-man it just disappears.

Rick:

And usually religion, they’ll usually get religion.

Tim:

Yeah, Rick, I noticed that you did not answer the question.

Rick:

Oh, you’re right, you’re right.

Tim:

That was a very clever avoidance maneuver.

Rick:

Did you notice me looking it up on my app?

Tim:

Hey, Rick, put your smart devices down. What are you doing?

Rick:

Here’s the really cool thing we’re doing. We’re doing really all five right, right now on this program. Because we’re exercising our faith, that freedom of religion. Free speech, all three of us speaking our minds, talking about what we believe. Our freedom of assembly, right here, we’re we’re assembling together. Even the free press, I mean we’re a part of the press at WallBuilders Live. And then, of course, petitioning the government for redress a grievance, we do that every day on this program. We talk about things that need to happen in government.

So, hey, David, I would say all five of those are probably freedoms that most Americans would be willing to fight and die to make sure their kids have but yet they don’t know where they are in the constitution.

David:

They don’t know where they are. With that framework of not knowing where they are, when that happens it allows the government to come in and go after them without you even knowing it. Because you don’t know what they are.

It’s interesting, we talked about these are rights given by God and they’re to be protected by government but there so many times in our history where government has not protected. Take free speech, how many times has government come after free speech. What are examples where government comes after free speech?

Rick:

Even if you consider speech to be your art, right? I mean, often the Supreme Court cases talking about art being a form of speech. So, if you’re a florist, or you’re a baker, and making those things is part of your expression and you don’t want to speak in a particular way and government forcing you to speak. But I guess that’s the opposite of what you’re asking you talk about examples where they didn’t let you speak, but now we are forcing people to speak in a way. And Founders would have hated that.

David:

Which violates the right of association, right of assembly, right to petition government, all those other things go with it. So, when you start violating one, usually you violate the others. But you’ve got the whole slavery movement. I mean, so much of the slavery movement in history, the government was trying to stop the anti-slavery voice.

Tim:

Sure. And that’s actually one of the fun stories we talk about is John Quincy Adams who is the only individual in the history of the world, but specifically in America, going from the president to Congress. And the reason he goes to Congress is he wants to see slavery ended.

He’s such an ardent anti-slavery guy that he doesn’t really make a lot of friends with so many of the slave people that are in Congress. Well, he gets up every chance he gets to petition, or to raise petitions, to bring up the issue of slavery and how they need to abolish it.

So the House actually goes to the rules committee, they change a rule to that you can no longer introduce anti-slavery petitions on the floor. So they literally silenced his free speech that he could not talk about slavery anymore. So that was a situation where again, in the slavery movement that free speech was banned because they didn’t want to hear things against slavery.

Persecution For Exercising Our 1st Amendment Right

Rick:

And you talk about petition for redress of grievances. Today we don’t think about petition being what it was in that day, it was literally a petition that people were sent into Congress.

Here’s John Quincy Adams not only bring in the ones from his home district. If you lived in, maybe you lived in Maine, or that day I guess Georgia, and the people from Georgia wouldn’t share their petition you could send it to John Quincy Adams in Massachusetts he’d stand up on the floor of the house and read it for you.

David:

But they went after him just like in that same sphere or area of abolition. There were 3,000 ministers from New England who sent anti-slavery petitions to Congress. It launched a huge thing on Congress where they said, “They don’t have the right to have a voice on this. They’re preachers, they don’t get a right to have a voice.”

You have the Alien Sedition Act, Jefferson’s the one who ended it where it said, “You can’t criticize the government.” And he stopped that. But that was a federal law passed.

You had things like Elijah Lovejoy, they went in and destroyed his press four times because he kept printing articles against slavery.

We look at what happened with the civil rights movement in Birmingham where they just marched peaceably. They have free speech they said, “We need equality.” and they stick the dogs on them and put the fire hoses on them.

I mean, government all the time has is not protecting what it should be. Even 20 years ago, as talk radio was coming along they tried to do the fairness doctrine which is, “Hey, there’s too many conservatives. We need more liberal voices out there so we’re going to squelch conservatives.” A couple of years ago they were doing the same thing on the Internet fairness act. So, the government isn’t protecting speech as it should.

And one of the areas that have not protected speech goes back to what it was the 1850s where they’re not protecting the right of clergy to have a voice. And when the clergy weighed in and said, “Hey, we think slavery is wrong.” They said, “Well, you don’t have a right to say that. That’s a political issue. You’ve got no right.” Well, eventually they prevailed.

But now we’ve got it, a hundred years later, the same thing with what’s called, “The Johnson Amendment.” We’ve had since 1954 that says, “Hey, if you’re a preacher, if you’re a church, or if you’re a nonprofit you don’t get the right of free speech to talk about issues that are going on in government.” Why not? That’s my God-given right. You’re supposed to protect that, not violate it.

And so now we have a member of Congress who’s actually working to do that. Congressman Jody Hice out of Georgia has introduced a measure to be able to repeal that Johnson Amendment and get back to constitutionally guaranteed free speech. Stay with us folks, Jody Hice congressman will be with us when we return on WallBuilders Live.

Moment From American History.

This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. American patriot Paul Revere road to alert Americans of the impending arrival of the British. But he also sought patriot leader Samuel Adams and John Hancock to warn them that the British were seeking their execution.

Adams and Hancock were staying with the Reverend Jonas Clark in Lexington. When they asked Pastor Clark if his church was ready for the approaching British he replied, “I’ve trained them for this very hour. They will fight and, if need be, die under the shadow of the house of God.”

Later that morning 70 men from his church, a several hundred British in the first battle of the war for independence. As Pastor Clark affirmed, “The militia that morning were the same who filled the pews of the church meeting house on the Sunday morning before.”

The American church was regularly at the forefront of the fight for liberty. For more information on this pastor and other colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com.

Losing Tax Exemptions For Using Our 1st Amendment Right

Rick:

Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live! Our good friend Congressman Jody Hice back with us. Always good to have you on, Congressman.

Jody:

Always great to be with you. Thank you so much for having me.

Rick:

Well, we appreciate your good work and I know what you’re doing not only helps folks from your home state of Georgia but all across the country. You kind of got your finger in the dike and standing against the slide towards socialism in our country. One of the ways you’re doing that is helping to bring back the voice of pastors and nonprofits and others not being not being muzzled. Tell us about your efforts on the Johnson Amendment.

Jody:

Well, you know I’ve been involved in this thing very personally, up in close as a pastor myself, being one of the 33 who originally challenged this, Rick. This has been something has been on my radar for a long time. You not waive your First Amendment rights just because you’re in a church.

The fact that the federal government would be attempting to police what is said in pulpits across America is absolutely unthinkable to me. But that’s what’s taking place under the Johnson Amendment that has been in place since 1954.

Now it has become an enormous bully stick that basically says, “If churches, pastors, or non-profits for that matter, address certain political issues they could lose their tax exempt status for that.”

Rick:

It’s kind of hard to preach a sermon on any subject without touching something that somebody might claim as is politics since the Bible touches every area of the culture.

Jody:

Absolutely. And who should be making that decision? Should it be the pastor who is studying and praying and the church members who have that pastor of a church? Or should the federal government be making that decision as to what can and cannot be said from the churches?

Of course, we all ultimately know the answer to that question. And yet more and more we’re seeing the Johnson Amendment being used to intimidate pastors and churches into silence.

Why It’s Hard To Get The Johnson Amendment Fixed

Rick:

It seems like even someone that has no grounding in constitutional study, a Biblical study, or history, or any of that, just as kind of an American way of life. People know in their gut this is just a bad deal to have government policing the sermons  or the speeches of individuals, it’s not just a freedom of religion issue it’s a freedom of speech issue.

So people kind of know in their gut when you start talking about this and you inform people they go, “Yeah, that’s wrong. Government should not be telling people what they can say.” Why is it so hard to get this fixed?

Jody:

Well, that’s a great question. It’s the it has never been challenged since 1954 when LBJ got behind closed doors without any debate on the Senate floor. He had this amendment added into the IRS code and it’s never been challenged since then.

Yet, it has been used as a threat of intimidation to silence churches and pastors and nonprofits to not speak on political. As a pastor myself, Rick, you probably have seen this too, but I used to at every single election cycle receive threatening and intimidating letters basically saying that if I address certain issues I could be sued, our church can be sued, or we could lose our tax exempt status, or something along those lines.

And when you receive those letters it is extremely intimidating. And as a result many people believe that that is the truth, that it’s illegal to address certain issues from the pulpit and thus they just censor themselves into saying nothing at all.

Rick:

It silences them through that threat. Even though it’s a paper tiger. The reality is that people do stop saying certain things. So it has a real effect even though it’s not constitutional. Like you said, the challenge is the hard part.

You mentioned being one of the original 33, this whole idea of the pulpit initiative and pastors getting up and saying, “Hey, government can’t silence us and can’t tell us what to say.” And literally sending your sermons into the IRS and saying, “Come and get us if you think this is wrong.” And yet, they have refused to do so because they know they’ll lose once it gets to the Supreme Court.

Jody:

That’s exactly right. although this threat is out there and the Johnson Amendment is in the IRS code, never has a church lost their tax-exempt status because of this. And you’re exactly right, the reason for that is there is greater success from their perspective by using this as a threat rather than taking it to court and then losing the case.

And so they’ve never come after any of us who have attempted to violate the code. Instead, they continue just using the threat and the result is just what you said. People censor themselves.

It’s just part of buying into the erroneous narrative of separation of church and state. And it’s the, “We have bought into that even in the churches to believe we cannot address certain political issues in church. That somehow that’s illegal.” Which of course it’s not.

The Free Speech Fairness Act

Rick:

You guys really break this down well in this article that was published a month or so ago by Senator Lankford and yourself. We’re going to do a link today to it at WallBuildersLive.com so folks can read that.

How can they help you with the legislation that you guys are pushing right now? Is it best just make phone calls to Congressman’s offices and give the bill number and ask them to support it? What would you recommend at this point?

Jody:

Yeah, it’s a Free Speech Fairness Act that’s all people need to know, Free Speech Fairness Act. And basically all it says is, “Look, during the normal course of your ministry activity and you can address political issues without any threat of penalty or punishment or harassment from the government. You have a right to do that.”

Now, it does not allow you to do things like, of course, a church cannot become a political action committee. That’s not what we’re after. There are hoops to jump through if you want to develop a PAC. But what this says is, “During the normal course of what you do you can deal with political issues without being threatened.”

So, if you send out weekly newsletters. Well, you can endorse a candidate or speak to issues in your weekly newsletter. But you cannot take out a front page paper in USA Today endorsing a candidate if that’s not something you typically do.

So, it’s just in the normal course of what you do you can stand up for the things that you believe in without fear of intimidation, or threat, or penalty from the government. So it’s the Free Speech Fairness Act. And I would just encourage people to call their representatives and encourage them to co-sponsor it.

Rick:

Imagine that, free speech, freedom of religion, being able to say what you believe regardless of what particular organization or church or whatever you might be part of. I can’t believe you’re doing crazy stuff like this Jody, I mean, you pro-Constitution guy, you.

Jody:

I know, it’s crazy.

There Is A Good Chance Trump Will Pass This

Rick:

Hey, listen this is also in terms of chances of passage and actually getting done. I mean, prior to this year Obama would’ve certainly vetoed it had it passed. In fact, one of the things that made me get excited because you know, I was not a Trump guy whenever he won the primary. But made me get excited about his potential of winning last summer, around August or so, in an event that had nothing to do with this. Another subject came up and he out of nowhere said, “Yeah, this Johnson Amendment thing, we’ve got to get rid of this.” And he has really spoken against it. So do you think it’s a pretty good chance that he would sign this if you guys got it passed?

Jody:

There really is. In fact, we heard again just last week his commitment to get this bill across the finish line if we can get it to him. And I think we really stand a great chance of doing that later on this year when we do the tax reform bill. That’s the ideal place for this to be attached to it because this is addressing the IRS code. And so it would very naturally fit there.

But in whatever shape, form, or fashion it goes we do have the commitment from the president that he will sign this thing if we can get it to him and he wants us to get it to him. So I’m very encouraged. This is a this is a huge issue for all non-profits and churches and I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing it across the finish line in the near future.

Rick:

Congressman Jody Hice, appreciate your leadership on this! Look forward to having you back for an update. Again, encouraging folks to go learn more about this, call you Congressman, talk to him about it, let the office know that you as you support it.

It’s a great opportunity to give your pastor back the right to freely speak and to freely preach and freely share their beliefs and their thoughts from the pulpit. So just a great great thing you’re working on Jody. It has been years as of beating our head against a wall trying to get progress on this.

Jody:

Years.

Rick

And all of a sudden we see light at the end of the tunnel. This could be the year to get it done. Keep up the great work brother! Appreciate you coming on.

Jody:

Thank you so much. Appreciate you keeping it alive as well. God bless, talk to you soon!

Rick:

Alright, brother. That is congressman Jody Hice. Stay with us folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

Bring A Speaker To Your Area

Tim:

Hey, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders.  And as you’ve had the opportunity to listen to WallBuilders Live, you’ve probably heard a wealth of information about our nation, about our spiritual heritage, about the religious liberties, and about all the things that make America exceptional. And you might be thinking, “As incredible as this information is, I wish there was a way that I could get one of the WallBuilders guys to come to my area and share with my group.”

Whether it be a church, whether it be a Christian school, or public school, or some political event, or activity, if you’re interested in having a WallBuilders speaker come to your area, you can get on our website at www.WallBuilders.com and there’s a tab for scheduling. If you’ll click on that tab, you’ll notice there’s a list of information from speakers bio’s, to events that are already going on. And there’s a section where you can request an event, to bring this information about who we are, where we came from, our religious liberties, and freedoms. Go to the WallBuilders website and bring a speaker to your area.

They’re Violating Two Rights In The First Amendment

Rick:

We’re back, thanks for staying with us on WallBuilders Live! Thanks to Congressman Jody Hice, one of the good guys there in Congress, by the way. If you haven’t met him or heard him look him up on the Website.He’s actually been working with us here at WallBuilders for years before he went into Congress.

Back with David and Tim now. So, I was just thinking, as I was talking with Jody, it’s not the government is infringing. It’s kind of the way he put it, it’s the people in power, it’s the ones that are controlling government at that time are using the power of government to shut down the opposition to what they believe. That’s really what’s happening.

David:

Yeah, it is. But see, those in government also should understand the Constitution, many of them take an oath to uphold it. There deal should be, “Hey, wait a minute. We’re not going to do this. This violates the First Amendment free speech right. We’re supposed to protect that.” But they don’t do that, and it becomes a political thing.

Interestingly, Jody said you don’t waive your first amendment rights because you’re a church. And he’s right, but what is also true is you actually get double protection, not just single protection. Because as a church you have the right of free speech. But as a church you also have the right of religious expression. And when those two things overlap you’ve got two forms of protection. So you really have the government going after two forms of First Amendment protections here, not just one. And that’s part of the bad deal on this is they’re going after double.

Tim:

Let me throw out, one of the things, Rick, when you’re talking to Jody that really struck me is that it wasn’t really even the point of what he was trying to communicate but he said that the government shouldn’t be the one to dictate what churches can talk about it. It should be the pastors and the people in the pew.

And I thought, It’s interesting he said ‘the people in the pew.”  Because I think most people in the pew don’t think they want their pastor on a lot of levels to talk about what are considered political issues. But I thought that’s where we have such bad information. We’ve had such bad education that we’re not just fighting at this point government who is being unconstitutional.

Even if we talk about these government agencies whether it’s the IRS or whatever group it is it’s targeting churches or targeting even nonprofits in general but saying, “Wait a second, you can’t have free speech. You can’t talk about political issues.”

It’s not just people in government that don’t know, it’s people all around us that have no idea what the Constitution really says, how it was actually structured, or even what the Johnson Amendment says.

Unequivocal Verses In The Bible

David:

But Tim, what you raised I think is really significant. And it’s where the people are. Here’s the question I’ve got- and by the way, I think the chance to get this passed is really good, especially when Jody said that they’re attaching it to a financial measure. That’s a whole different protocol for those measures as opposed to stand-alone measure. So I think the chances are really high, they’ll get it done.

So, if they get it passed then here’s the question, “If it’s passed, what reason would a pastor used for not speaking?” So there’s no longer a statutory reason he can’t do so. So what excuse will he come up with? And I thought an interesting word that Jody used was “intimidation” that pastors often feel, is kind of intimidation. Which got me thinking. I’ll just throw a question to you guys, what are some unequivocal verses in the Bible that you can’t interpret except as black and white? God said it, end of story.

Tim:

Don’t murder.

David:

Alright.

Rick:

That’s pretty clear.

David:

You don’t have “kind of murder.” You either do or you don’t murder.

Tim:

Right.

David:

Ok, that’s one. What’s another one?

Rick:

Don’t steal.

David:

Yep, don’t steal. You don’t kind of steal. anything in the Ten Commandments.

Tim:

Yeah. Don’t commit adultery, that’s in the 10 commandments, that’s pretty black and white. Jesus said, I think it is in John 14:6, “I’m the way the truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” So that’s real clear, an exclusive claim.

Rick

Didn’t leave that open ended.

Tim:

That’s right.

David:

Well there’s a lot of verses like that aren’t open for interpretation if you believe the Bible and I do. I tend to read it the way it says it is. And the verse that I’ve been thinking about so much recently is Proverbs 28:1 which says, “The righteous are bold as a lion.” Now, if I take that on its face, what that tells me is, “If you’re not bold as a lion you’re not righteous.”

I don’t care what you think about yourself, I don’t care if you call yourself a Christian in good standing. If you’re afraid to speak out, if you’re afraid to have boldness, if you’re afraid to challenge something, or confront something, or address something, or get involved in something, you ain’t righteous. At least if that verse is true.

Rick:

Righteousness requires boldness.

David:

The righteous are bold as a lion, end of statement, that’s it. So that maybe one way to measure our righteousness is, “I’m in great standing with God. But I really hate getting involved in political issues.”

We Need Boldness In The Pulpit

Tim:

That would really be a good opportunity for us to recognize a challenge even from the Bible. Obviously, we read the Bible and we want to be conformed to the likeness. Paul says, I think it’s Romans 8:32 somewhere in there, that we should be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.

But if we’re going to be the image of who we’re supposed to be as Christians reflecting Christ we need to be looking for areas to be bold, to stand up, to do things. And certainly in the context that we’re talking about. That’s something that sadly we don’t see a lot of pastors that operate in great levels of boldness.

David:

We’ve talked to Barna over the recent months and we’re finding out that 72 percent of churches and pastors do not believe the Bible. Of the 28 percent that do, 90 percent of them specifically said the Bible addressed 18 issues, specific issues, but they were not themselves going to talk about those issues. So we’re down to 2.8 percent of pastors willing to talk about what the Bible talks about. Where is the “righteous are bold as a lion” in that?

Tim:

Well, and we could even argue that some of it is a misprioritization. Where some pastors is not that they are afraid to talk about things but some pastors want to give 52 salvation messages a year. And it’s not because they don’t believe the Bible doesn’t speak to other things or they don’t want to talk about it. “We do that and our Bible studies. We do that in Sunday School, Sunday morning, this is when we’re trying to get people saved.” So it could even just be a philosophy difference. Nonetheless, you have pastors that are not addressing the issues. And a lot of times, as you mentioned, it’s because there’s not boldness there where there should be boldness.

David:

Well, you’ve got the Bible tells us in Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear. “Well, I’m afraid I’ll offend my people.”

Tim:

That’s a big deal with pastors.

David:

So, where is the boldness? “Hey, I’m going to speak what’s right. I’m going to be bold. And if it offends some people, that’s the way it is. I’m going to be righteous.”

Tim:

But you know, it’s one of the things we’ve talked about on the program too. Where statistically most pastors identify as teachers and not as leaders. And a leader is willing to be bold. A leader is going to stand up. “I’m going to do something.”

David:

“I’m going to lead.”

Tim:

To be a leader requires boldness.

Being A Leader Worthy Of Following

David:

By the way. This is really cool, I was talking to one of my Israeli buddies the other day. You cannot be a general in the Israeli army if you’re not out in front of your troops leading them into battle. You do not stay at the back and send them. You have to be the first guy out of the truck. If you’re an Israeli general you’ve got to be the first guy. Now that’s leadership.

Tim:

And that means you had to survive a lot of battles to make it to the front as a general. So you have a lot of experience and that’s somebody I want to follow. I will follow your courage and braveness.

David:

That’s what churches need. That’s what the nation needs.

Rick:

That’s what people are hungry for too. They’re looking for that. That’s why those bold pastors are growing.

David:

Well, I hope we get the Johnson member killed because then it takes away all the excuses. But we shouldn’t need an excuse to be bold, to stand up, and declare boldly regardless of what people think. That’s just Proverbs 28:1, that’s a good test for us.

Rick:

That’s a great point! Not only if we’ve got and to be bold to be righteous and we all want to be righteous that means there’s no in-between. Everybody out there look for that place God can use you. Where can you be bold? Maybe you need to go to your pastor and tell him to start speaking to these issues. And let’s support Jody Hice’s bill so that you can be free to speak and use that first amendment. Thanks for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.

 

2017-04-18T21:04:08+00:00 April 19th, 2017|Constitution & Legal|0 Comments

Leave A Comment