The potential tax change that divides Georgia’s religious community

The Rev. Raphael Warnock leads the Sunday service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

It’s a regular ritual on Sundays before big votes: Candidates fan out to churches across the state, take prominent perches near the pulpit and receive warm applause from parishioners. And preachers inevitably shower them with kind words, though they stop short of much more lest they cross an invisible line.

And that has deeply divided Georgia’s religious community. The mingling of politics and faith has long been a hallmark of life in the South. Candidates make pilgrimages to congregations on the Sundays ahead of elections. Pastors distribute voter guides, and many proselytize on the most pressing political issues of the day.

Yet for 63 years, churches and other charitable organizations have been barred from taking one of the most concrete actions in the political playbook: endorsing candidates. Organizations that violate the so-called Johnson Amendment risk losing their tax-exempt status.

Keep reading on MyAJC: Move for freer political speech divides Georgia’s religious community


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