ADL Hails Defeat of House Bill That Would Have Permitted Religious Institutions to Endorse Elected Officials
New York, NY, October 2, 2002 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) applauded today's defeat by the House of Representatives of the "Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act," an unnecessary and unconstitutional measure that would have changed the tax code to permit houses of worship to endorse candidates to elected office and contribute to their campaigns.
"We are very pleased that the House of Representatives has rejected this unnecessary and unconstitutional legislation," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "By proposing to change the tax code to permit houses of worship to endorse candidates for elected office and contribute to their campaigns, this bill raised the unseemly specter of religious institutions bartering votes for the promise of federal funds. Treating houses of worship differently from other tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations would be unconstitutional because the First Amendment requires that the government not prefer religion over non-religion."
Current law prohibits houses of worship - and all non-profit tax-exempt organizations - from participating in or interfering with political campaigns. The bill defeated by the House today would have exempted only houses of worship.
"Supporters of this bill wrongly argued that religious viewpoints are currently muzzled in the public arena," said Mr. Foxman. "But Ministers, Rabbis, Imams and other religious leaders are already permitted to speak out on the full scope of religious, political, and moral issues of the day; to engage in a wide range of public policy and legislative advocacy; and to actively support non-partisan voter participation and voter education initiatives. The House has acted wisely in rejecting the bill as bad public policy and unnecessary."
The League submitted testimony opposing the bill at hearings in May 2002 before a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.