Tag Archives: legislation

Politicians Should Look Elsewhere for Endorsements and Campaign Contributions

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For more than 60 years, the Johnson Amendment has successfully protected the charities serving you, me and our communities as a safe space free to advance our missions without the rancor of partisan politics.  The law, proposed by Senator Lyndon Johnson and signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954, prohibits churches and other charitable nonprofits and foundations from endorsing political candidates.

Some in Congress and the Trump Administration want to repeal or weaken the protections in the law. This change would allow preachers to endorse political candidates from the pulpit, but the impact and consequences go much further.  That is why we, along with the vast majority of congregations, charitable nonprofits and foundations, strongly oppose efforts to change the law – endorsing or contributing to candidates, even if by only a few organizations, would destroy the nonpartisanship necessary for nonprofits to effectively solve problems in our communities.

Watering down or repealing the Johnson Amendment matters to all Kentuckians. When the nonprofit sector is damaged, the people we serve suffer most. For nonprofits to be safe places where people of all parties join forces to enhance the quality of life for all Kentuckians, we need your support.

The current protection applies to all 501 (c)(3) charitable nonprofits – including the homeless shelter, child care center, animal rescue organization, art museum, veteran’s aid organization, nonprofit hospital, and your congregation. Your favorite causes would be affected, and partisanship would harm each one.

Your donations to charitable nonprofits are investments in solving community problems and caring for Kentucky’s citizens. The public’s trust is vital to supporting these investments. Allowing people to make tax-deductible contributions to groups who endorse or oppose candidates would erode the integrity of the nonprofit sector. It is in everyone’s interest to keep dark money out of charitable nonprofits and congregations.

Protecting the Johnson Amendment isn’t a free speech issue – advocacy and candidate endorsement are not the same.  Protecting the Johnson Amendment isn’t a religious issue – the implications reach beyond the pulpit.  Protecting the Johnson Amendment is not even a partisan issue.  For more than six decades, the provision to maintain a neutral playing field has been respected and supported by both parties. While nonprofits may take public policy positions that are favored by one group of elected officials more than another group, candidate endorsement or opposition is detrimental to the neutrality and integrity of the sector.

Protecting the Johnson Amendment is common sense.  Kentucky Nonprofit Network, our commonwealth’s association of charitable nonprofits, and the Kentucky Council of Churches, representing eleven denominations, call on Kentuckians to stand with us in rejecting any effort to weaken or dismantle the Johnson Amendment. Send a loud and clear message to Washington that partisan politics have no place in charitable nonprofits and faith communities.

Danielle Clore, Executive Director/CEO
Kentucky Nonprofit Network
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Rev. Dr. Peggy C. Hinds, Interim Executive Director
Kentucky Council of Churches

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I’m Still Learning

A few weeks ago, I watched as my seven-year-old son encouraged his great-grandmother to play a video game with him.  Gently, yet persistently, my grandmother assured him, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  Albert Einstein had a different perspective: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”  Whether Einstein would have embraced playing Mario Cart on Wii Uor not, we’ll never know.  But I’ve decided to embrace Einstein’s perspective, and I really believe my grandmother has too – she just chooses to use crossword puzzles and Scrabble to continue learning.

Many nonprofits focus on learning, but that message is typically directed to stakeholders. We aren’t always so great at directing the message of continued learning back to ourselves as nonprofit professionals.

KNN’s increased focus on creating a strong, unified public policy voice for nonprofits has given me lots of learning opportunities.  As KNN launches an all-hands-on-deck effort to seek passage of HCR 89 to create a task force to examine and improve nonprofit contractual relationships with state government, there is much to learn.  While challenging at times, I am embracing the things I’m learning about the legislative process and lobbying – even things I dislike.  I am blessed to have the guidance and support of wonderful KNN board and public policy committee members.  Their combined expertise, my persistence to tackle this important public policy priority, and our legislative champions combined with your partnership on this important issue will be a powerful coalition working to secure passage of HCR 89 – or at least initiate a much needed conversation.

If you haven’t gotten up to speed yet on why this issue of nonprofit and government contracting matters to each of us, please check out my blog post from last week and this updated summary.

KNN will also be learning during this year’s third annual Kentucky Gives Day.  We announced last week that we are moving this statewide 24-hour giving event to December 1, 2015 to take advantage of the growing momentum and success of #GivingTuesday.  We will be learning alongside our members in this effort, so that we can continue to find the best ways to harness the power of social media to encourage online giving.

I once heard a speaker say that growth is uncomfortable – and I believe that’s true.  I also believe these learning opportunities will help KNN stay on top of our game by looking forward and making bold moves to advance our nonprofit community

If you will stand with us on this journey to continue learning and growing, I’m certain we will empower our nonprofit community and strengthen Kentucky.

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