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Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance and Faith Voices Arkansas Oppose Efforts to Repeal Johnson Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Stephanie F. Meincke, LMSW                                     Rev. Stephen Copley
Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance                                      Faith Voices Arkansas     
501.375.1223                                                                501.626.9220
smeincke@ArkansasNonprofits.org                         faithvoicesar@gmail.com


The Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance and Faith Voices Arkansas strongly oppose efforts to repeal the Johnson Amendment. Nonprofits should remain focused on their missions and continue to improve lives without consideration of party politics.

Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has barred charitable nonprofits from engaging in partisan political activities, such as endorsing a candidate, while still allowing nonprofits to advocate for policies that help their clients and move their mission forward. Recent efforts at the federal level put the Johnson Amendment at risk. And if the Johnson Amendment is repealed, the trust that forms the foundation of the nonprofit sector would likely go with it. Nonprofits are safe spaces where people can turn for services, support, comfort, spiritual guidance and inspiration regardless of their political beliefs. Our clients should not worry if they will get the services and support they require if their partisan views do not align with a nonprofit’s views.

“Each Monday, the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance meets at the state capitol to discuss legislation affecting the missions of nonprofits. On one particular morning, nonprofit leaders vigorously discussed the effects of a bill that would limit the food items that could be purchased with food stamps. Across the board, all of the nonprofits present were concerned about how the bill would affect families living in food deserts. They discussed ways to improve the legislation and strategies to educate legislators on the adverse effects of the bill.  In the room were individuals who recently voted for opposing party candidates, both conservatives and liberals. But that never came up. Despite their personal, political beliefs, these nonprofit leaders had a shared mission- improve the lives of Arkansans, ” said Stephanie Meincke, President and CEO of the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance

“As an ordained United Methodist clergy and the Chair of Faith Voices Arkansas, I have deep reservations with churches endorsing candidates for political office while remaining tax exempt in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service” said Reverend Stephen Copley, Chair of Faith Voices Arkansas. “There are a number of other vehicles for faith leaders to express their political views.  First, if a faith community wishes to exercise their right of free speech and endorse candidates, they could choose not be exempt from paying taxes on their contributions.  Second, there is the avenue of joining like-minded people in political parties as individual citizens, not as representatives of their faith community.”

Reverend Copley went onto say “Why am I so concerned?  Our faith communities are not homogeneous institutions politically.  When we endorse candidates of one political party or another, then we begin to exclude others in the congregation.  Also, we open the door for the possibility of contributions being made for the express purpose of receiving an endorsement for office.  These types of activities are damaging to the religious life of members of congregations.”

About the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance (ANA)- ANA is the state association of charitable nonprofits, with 805 members around the state of Arkansas. It provides education, resources, advocacy, and networking opportunities to strengthen nonprofits in Arkansas.

About Faith Voices Arkansas- is a nonprofit organization that does advocacy on important faith issues related to the environment, poverty, restorative justice and international concerns at the state and federal level.

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