Johnson 11th commandment
Reagan had his 11th commandment: “Thou shall not speak ill of any Republican.” However, Reagan meant this only to apply to party politics and not the general public. Unfortunately, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson also had an 11th commandment, but in his case he was able to impose it upon the entire nation. Since 1954, Johnson’s 11th commandment has proven to be far more destructive to this country than his escalation of the Viet Nam conflict. The 1954 Johnson Amendment clearly screamed in no uncertain terms: “Thou shall not speak up against or endorse any political candidate if you are a church or a non-profit organization or you will lose your tax exempt status.” This commandment not only violated the churches’ First Amendment right of free speech, it also violated all of our First Amendment rights to worship as we see fit without any government interference, and it ultimately perverted the true meaning of separation of church and state, which was to protect the church from the state and not the other way around.
Johnson Amendment produces immorality and faithlessness
The moral and spiritual fallout from losing our right to free speech within the church has resulted in losing our right to our liberty of conscience, which in turn has resulted in a moral and spiritual decline of epic proportions. Liberty of conscience cannot survive for very long in a culture that censors and condemns speech, which is often the expression of one’s conscience and beliefs. Once the church’s voice is silenced, the state will be more than happy to dictate to us what we should believe and how we should act under the guise of “bully” laws, which in and of themselves creates bullies out of the very government that was instituted to protect these rights. If you don’t understand how censorship can change a culture, look to the creation v. evolution debate, which is not a debate at all in our government-run schools. The evolutionists are winning the battle for the souls of our children by censoring anything contrary to the biblical account of creation. This has resulted in our children believing that any other theory about origins is not scientifically sustainable and therefore nothing more than a myth for the culturally backward and mentally challenged. In this arena alone we see how powerful the weapon of censorship can be.
Since 1954, Johnson’s tactic of IRS imposed censorship has also produced morally damaged fruit in our halls of government by eliminating the voice of the church in the political arena. If, for instance, a church in NJ speaks out against Cory Booker for his stance on partial birth abortion or Senator Menendez for his alleged pedophilia, they can lose their tax exempt status. This can result in not only a fine and possible imprisonment for the leadership of the church; it also means that the congregants would no longer be able to deduct their tithes and offerings on their income tax filing. This is offensive enough but to add insult to injury, unions are not held to the same standard.
Additionally, the Johnson Amendment violated tax laws established in the Constitution that prescribe equal protection and treatment under the law. In this particular instance unions, whose dues are tax deductible, are allowed to do what the churches are forbidden to do under our current tax laws – endorse candidates, lobby, and exercise their freedom of speech however they deem appropriate. At the very least you would think that what’s good for the proverbial goose would be good for the proverbial gander. If churches cannot speak out politically and maintain their tax exempt status, the same regulation should be applied equally to unions. But alas, this is just one more thing that doesn’t make sense in a country that has put its faith in men and government instead of God.
The Houston Five
Today the violation of our First Amendment right to worship freely is being tested in Houston, where five area churches have been ordered by the town council to submit their sermons. The ground swell against this bully tactic has been more than the town council or its openly gay mayor had anticipated, and as a result, the order has been rescinded. But rescinding an order that is clearly a violation of the churches’ First Amendment rights is not a sufficient action. The churches in Houston understood that and have risen to the occasion. On Freedom Sunday (an Alliance Defending Freedom initiative) 1600 pastors defied the IRS rules and spoke as they were led by God and not ordered by man. Grace Community Church in Houston and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council hosted the event entitled “I Stand Sunday,” and stand is exactly what these pastors did. Dr. Ed Young of the Second Baptist Church conducted a sermon entitled “Don’t Mess with the Pulpits of America.” Perhaps one of the most encouraging aspects of the sermons was that they were not simply in defiance of the IRS rules. They did what the church should have been doing for decades. They called for repentance and a spiritual awakening with Dr. Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention acknowledging that our greatest problem is not in the White House but within the church itself.
I Stand Sunday differs significantly from what happened in the churches after 9/11. While we may have seen the churches filling up after 9/11, we never saw revival probably because of the spirit of defiance that filled the pews and not a spirit of repentance. It seems that the churches in Houston got it right by balancing strength and humility. But there is still much more to be done.
It is often said that the best defense is a good offense. Instead of submitting to unconstitutional laws with murmuring, or even standing up to the bullies when challenged, prosecution of the elected officials who do not honor their oath of office to preserve and protect our constitutional rights would be both effective and appropriate.
Surprisingly, we do have legal ground to stand on. For instance:
- Miranda, supra, states: “Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.”
- And in Watson vs. Memphis, 375 U.S. 526, the courts ruled: “Constitutional rights cannot be denied simply because of hostility to their assertions and exercise…”
- And 16 AM. Jur (2nd), Const. Law, Sect 70, states: “No public policy of a state can be allowed to override the positive guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.”
- And Hurtado vs. California, 110, U.S. 516 (1883), states: “The state cannot diminish Rights of the people.”
Putting all of this together, the courts have found on numerous occasions that no person – either acting on behalf of the government or individually – has the right to deprive us of our constitutional rights. Unfortunately, we are guilty of compliance because we have allowed these rights to be trodden down by tyrants and lawbreakers in all levels of government without objection. While the actions against the mayor and town council of Houston are a good start, they do not go far enough. We the People should not be satisfied with such an egregious act being simply dismissed; we should rise to the occasion and prosecute – prosecute – prosecute. In this case a good defense is not good enough. We need a good offense that will not only stop such violations against our Constitutional rights, but rectify some of the harm that has been done by standing together to insist that the 1954 Johnson Amendment be repealed. And if it is not, we must chose: do we serve God or man. If we serve God, then we owe it to Him to speak out vociferously against any candidate or government institution that would infringe upon our liberty of conscience and violate our right to free speech. If we do not, we are not worthy of Him nor of the liberties He has bestowed upon us. On the other hand, if we don’t take a stand, we do deserve a government that arbitrarily dismisses our constitutional rights, believing our rights come from them and not from God. Either Americans will stand up and be counted or they will lie down and be enslaved. As for me and my house, we will stand. Will you stand with us?
Reprinted from The Daily Rant, copyright 2014 Mychal Massie. Used by permission.