The Brody File has learned that former Speak of the House Newt Gingrich is working with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to craft a bill that would repeal the controversial Johnson Amendment.
The law attempts to restrict political speech from the pulpit. GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump wants it repealed and Gingrich is doing his part to get the ball rolling.
Gingrich has been in touch with two powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill: Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It's early in the process so no firm language has been set yet. The hope is that a bill can be introduced this fall.
In a nod to evangelicals, Trump called for the repeal during his speech at the GOP Convention saying that, "an amendment pushed by [Texas Senator] Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views."
Repealing the law is also part of the GOP platform. It states how "the federal government, specifically the IRS, is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring speech based on religious convictions or beliefs" and urges the repeal of the so-called Johnson Amendment.
Trump's call to repeal the Johnson Amendment could make a huge difference when it comes to the general election. If played correctly by the Trump campaign, it's a huge opportunity for Trump to get pastors (and their flocks) out to the polls in record numbers. He'll need every last vote considering this is expected to be a close election.
The key will be mobilizing pastors and engaging with them. It won't be enough to trot out a line or two in some speeches about the Johnson Amendment. Trump and his campaign will need to enter the trenches with pastors in order to do the heavy lifting that's needed.
If he reaches out, evangelical pastors can push him towards the finish line. If he doesn't, then he enters into risky business.