WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council President Tony Perkins will speak at a news conference tomorrow, Wednesday, September 28, on the introduction of the Free Speech Fairness Act. The Free Speech Fairness Act would address the shortcomings of the Johnson Amendment which in 1954 was inserted into the tax code by Senator Lyndon Johnson without floor or Committee debate. The Johnson amendment prohibits non-profits and churches from engaging in any activity that might be interpreted as participating in, or intervening in a campaign on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office, including a simple oral or written statement. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) and Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Christiana Holcomb will also speak on the Free Speech Fairness Act.
The legislation reflects the newly adopted Republican Party platform language which criticizes the Johnson Amendment for restricting the “First Amendment freedoms of all nonprofit organizations by prohibiting political speech.” On Sunday October 2nd, pastors across the country will participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” a day in which pastors declare to their congregations that what they say behind the pulpit should be accountable to God alone, not the IRS. Pulpit Freedom Sunday events over the past years have involved thousands of pastors speaking on political matters, and the goal was to elicit a court challenge. The IRS has not directly responded to these sermons, which means restoring these free speech rights requires a legislative rather than a legal strategy.
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.)
Christiana Holcomb, legal counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
WHAT: Press Conference unveiling the Free Speech Fairness Act
WHEN: TOMORROW, Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 2:00 PM Eastern
WHERE: U.S. Capitol Room H-326
Please RSVP to Chris Bond, communications director, Whip Scalise: firstname.lastname@example.org