Republicans are getting ready to undermine democracy and bring us one step closer to theocracy, and right wing pastors couldn’t be more thrilled.
Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment, (named after former Senator Lydon B. Johnson), prohibits all 501c3 organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. So, to help keep the people focused on heavenly rewards while Republicans hoard the earthly rewards for themselves and their rich pals, Oklahoma Senator James Lankford introduced a bill allow religious leaders to outright endorse candidates from the pulpit. Lankford’s office insists his motive is only to “terminate an attack on free speech.”
The Free Speech Fairness Act is needed to prevent government intrusion and suppression of free speech by removing a restriction on speech that has existed since 1954. The First Amendment right of free speech and right to practice any faith, or no faith, are foundational American values that must extend to everyone, whether they are a pastor, social worker or any charity employee or volunteer. People who work for a nonprofit still have constitutional rights to assembly, free speech, and free press.
Theocrats Gordon James Klingenschmitt and Pastor Stephen Broden were giddy over the news, and hoped that pesky democracy wouldn’t put a damper on them inflicting their version of Jesus on the secular government so many fought, bled and died to create. In an interview on Klingenschmitt’s “Pray in Jesus Name” program, Broden asserted,
This Johnson Amendment, in a sense, has just muzzled the church and shut them out of the public discourse.
The Pastor then gave a stark warning to Democrats who would dare oppose them. Apparently, the irony of warning democrats to remain silent while complaining about religious zealots’ own supposedly silenced “free speech” was way over their heads.
Attempting to curb Democratic opposition to a bill with threats isn’t “freedom of expression,” it’s authoritarianism. Not surprising, given this is what passes for Republicanism today.
If the bill passes the Legislature, no doubt Twitler will sign it. After all, he’s ignorant of what this “America-thingie” is supposed to be about and will do anything to garner applause from someone – even if that means returning the United States to the type of church-state intertwined system our founders fought a revolution to escape.