All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif., felt the Johnson Amendment’s effects firsthand. The IRS investigated the liberal Episcopal congregation over an anti-war sermon by a former rector days before the 2004 presidential election. That pastor did not endorse a candidate but suggested Jesus would condemn the Iraq War and then-President George W. Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive war.
The church was not penalized, but it racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees over three years.
The current rector, the Rev. Mike Kinman, said the church supports the rule and that the clergy’s task “is to interpret our faith for the common good,” not to entangle faith in partisan politics. He called Trump’s order “supremely unhelpful” and said it could open the door to people who want to buy endorsements or route money to political campaigns.