American Pastors Network: Will 2019 Be the Year Pastors Are Freed from the Johnson Amendment?
Christians Depend on Their Pastors for Guidance in All Aspects of the Culture, Including Politics, Which Have Incredible Impact on Society
PHILADELPHIA—Congress has been back in session for just a few days, and among the many pressing matters to consider—including immigration, a border wall and a government shutdown—the U.S. Senate is also poised to take action on a House-passed year-end tax package that includes a repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
For several years, the American Pastors Network (APN) has taken the firm stance that the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 act that bans tax-exempt nonprofit organizations like churches from participating in politics, strips pastors of their free speech rights.
APN says a repeal would mean freedom for the pulpit and the pews.
“Pastors’ voices had been silent on the most important cultural, societal and political issues of our time,” said APN President Sam Rohrer, “because of a fear of repercussions stemming, in part, from the Johnson Amendment.”
A repeal, he said, would return decades of freedom to churches and enable pastors to freely speak truth about social issues from the pulpit. But striking down the law would not remedy all the issues in today’s church, Rohrer added.
“It does not completely solve why pastors have not been preaching the whole counsel of God,” he said. “The path to freedom may have been paved, but it’s now up to pastors and churches to begin preaching boldly. For some, the Johnson Amendment has been a convenient excuse to shy away from the tough issues. The challenge before the pulpit has always been fear, and that’s the challenge of any leader. The Johnson Amendment has been the fear factor.”
Dave Kistler, president of the North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN), a state chapter of APN, agrees that this “fear factor” has been a stumbling block for pastors.
“Should the Senate take on this measure and it ultimately pass, all external excuses for not courageously proclaiming God’s truth would be removed,” Kistler said. “Then, pastors and preachers would have to deal with the internal issues preventing them from doing so—fear of man, fear of financial loss, fear of controversy and much more.”
Gary Dull, executive director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network (PPN), said he is thankful Congress is embarking on renewed effort to repeal the Amendment.
“For many years, some pastors have been hiding behind the Johnson Amendment and refusing to speak out on certain issues by stating they fear of loss of tax exemption for their churches,” Dull said. “Prior to his election President Donald Trump stated that, if elected, he would work to get the Amendment repealed. I am grateful for a president and a Congress that will take steps to give pastors the freedoms they need to preach the whole counsel of God.
“My concern, however,” Dull added, “is that if the Amendment is repealed many pastors will find other excuses not to present the biblical position on various issues of our culture. Therefore, I pray that if the Amendment is repealed that all God-fearing pastors will recognize this as a work of God and will become more bold in preaching the whole truth of the Word of God through clear exposition, interpretation and application. If they do, they will be greatly used of God to turn people back to a biblical understanding. Certainly, I pray that the process of the Congress will go forward and will prevail.”
Dale Walker, president of the Tennessee Pastors Network (TNPN), added that he is also praying Congress will repeal the “oppressive legislation that targets the pulpits of America.”
“The politically inspired shackles that are currently restricting pastors’ free speech is long overdue for repeal,” Walker added. “Our founding fathers would be appalled at how pastors are being treated as prisoners in their own places of the high calling of God and cannot even speak freely without breaking man’s law, which is intruding where only Gods law should rule and reign.”
In April 2018, APN debuted its new “Stand in the Gap” television program, which considers transcending cultural issues, seemingly difficult to navigate, from a biblical worldview perspective. “Stand in the Gap TV” airs on several networks, including WBPH in Philadelphia, VCY-TV in Milwaukee and Upliftv nationally. The program also recently began airing on WLYH Lighthouse TV 49. For the weekly, half-hour program, Rohrer and co-host and millennial pastor Isaac Crockett welcome expert guests to lend insight into topics such as: gun control, immigration, opioid addiction, race relations, Israel, Islam, marriage, voting and more.
The “Stand in the Gap” radio ministry includes the 60-second “Stand in the Gap Minute” radio feature, which airs on about 385 stations, and “Stand in the Gap Today,” which airs on more than 400 stations and is co-hosted by Rohrer, Dull and Kistler, Additionally, “Stand in the Gap Weekend” re-airs the most engaging segments from the previous week on about 240 stations.
View the media page for APN here, which also details information about “Stand in the Gap.” For more information on APN, visit www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net, its Facebook page or follow APN’s Twitter feed, @AmericanPastors. To form a state chapter of APN, contact email@example.com.