Will a Megachurch Lose Its Nonprofit Status for Hosting a Trump Rally?
Published in Nonprofit Quarterly
The Trump presidential campaign has held rallies at a variety of cities and venues. Many have provoked protests from those who oppose the president and his positions. But the rally to be held this Friday, January 3rd, at the King Jesus International Ministry, a megachurch in Miami, has prompted a call for the IRS to revoke the church’s nonprofit status.
A letter from the legal director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit that works on separation of religion and state issues, calls on the IRS to “promptly investigate” the church for appearing to expressly support President Trump. The church minister has urged his congregants to attend the rally, as a way of supporting the Ministry and his own work.
The grounds for the IRS investigation go directly to the Johnson Amendment, which specifies that nonprofits with 501c3 status are prohibited from “participating in or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” While church and religious leaders may express their own opinions as individuals, they may not make “partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions of the organization.”