Press Room

June 15, 2004


HRC Lauds Removal of Provisions in Bill Allowing Churches to Engage in Partisan Political Activity

'We're proud to have had a hand in ensuring that tax-exempt groups play on a level field,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today lauded action in the House Ways and Means Committee that stripped provisions from H.R. 4250, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, that would have allowed partisan political advocacy by churches and other houses of worship. If the provisions remained in the bill, houses of worship would have been allowed to participate in elections without losing their tax-exempt status - something that other tax-exempt groups would continue not to be able to do.

"We're proud to have had a hand in ensuring that tax-exempt groups play on a level field," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Houses of worship have never been prohibited from and remain permitted to discuss and provide guidance on important issues of the day. But the provisions, which were stripped out, would have allowed religious tax-exempt groups privilege over others. Regardless of their ideology, tax-exempt groups should be treated fairly and equally under the law."

The provisions, Section 692, entitled "Safe Harbor for Churches" and Section 4956, entitled "Tax on Impermissible Activities by Churches," were stripped from the bill June 14 after significant lobbying by HRC and coalition partners. Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., a strong HRC ally on the committee, offered an amendment to strip the language from the bill. Her amendment to strip the offensive provisions prevailed. Other members of the committee, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., were strong opponents of the provisions and worked to remove them. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., also spearheaded an effort on a Republican letter to the speaker asking that the provisions be removed before H

"We commend Representatives Nancy Johnson, John Lewis and Christopher Shays for their work to remove these unfair provisions in a bipartisan and fair manner," added Jacques.

Read HRC's letter of opposition.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.