The secret of GOP silence: Pence’s election week video & collection plate SuperPACs

Archie Strauss
Jan 15, 2017 · 9 min read

The GOP has been playing a very long game this year. Mr. Trump has performed a much-needed set of distractions. But the end goal may be dangerous to all organizations and individuals threatened by the hard-right evangelical policies of the Republicans in office. That is, to end the separation of church and state by abolishing the Johnson Amendment, ushering tithes directly into the pockets of their candidates.

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What is the Johnson Amendment?

Religious groups have the right to speak out on political and social issues. Federal law, however, prohibits most tax-exempt bodies, including houses of worship, from intervening in elections by endorsing or opposing candidates for public office. Churches are not political action committees and should not act like them. Religious leaders should abide by the law and refrain from turning their congregations into cogs in a political machine.


These talking points from Project Fair Play explain it further:

From the Freedom From Religion Foundation:

  • Cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office
  • Cannot make any communication — either from the pulpit, in a newsletter, or church bulletin — which expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate for public office
  • Cannot make expenditures on behalf of a candidate for public office or allow any of their resources to be used indirectly for political purposes (e.g., use their phones for a phone bank)
  • Cannot ask a candidate for public office to sign a pledge or other promise to support a particular issue
  • Cannot distribute partisan campaign literature
  • Cannot display political campaign signs on church property

So, why is this important? It may hold the answer to many of the following big questions we’ve been talking about all year:

  1. Why did the GOP feel comfortable delaying a Supreme Court Justice choice for an entire year, when Merrick Garland was a reasonable choice they had even proposed themselves earlier?
  2. What explains the strange reluctance of the GOP to speak against Trump’s outrageous words and childish behavior?
  3. Why are your evangelical neighbors strangely silent in criticizing, why are they going along with this obviously un-Christian behavior by the person reaching our highest office?
  4. Why is Representative Jason Chaffetz continuing to divert attention in the most outrageous ways instead of us once and for all investigating Donald Trump?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the real ballgame. The GOP are crossing their fingers and hoping to run out the clock until January 20th. Once Trump is elected, we will all be assumedly consoled by that reasonable face we saw of Mike Pence on debate night.

However — remember that right now ALL of the phone calls from hundreds and thousands of citizens, all of the brave gestures the democrats and some republicans on the hill are making, are a fight against the same GOP policies that we will have with Pence. It is no consolation prize whatsoever for those who voted for the opposition.

Further highlighting his intentions, Pence has produced and distributed to churches a direct video, shown to THOUSANDS of congregations, promising to repeal the Johnson Amendment. The date of this video? November 4. Not only did he promise the repeal, he explicitly promised it in this video (while uncoincidentally urging them to violate their tax status in the process).

So while many Clinton voters may have lost enthusiasm due to Comey misgivings, the evangelicals across the country were keeping hush-hush the airing from the pulpit of a video promising to free their voices. In reality it is about freeing their pocketbooks.

When the GOP gets access to the collection plate, their pesky little demographics problem becomes much more surmountable. The GOP is truly in a fight for their last stand, but it is financial. This financial boon might be enough to tilt efforts to protect civil rights, healthcare, liberties, and separation of church and state for the foreseeable future.

“Bow the head and bend the knee”

By continuing to focus ALL of our attention on Trump, the GOP is delighted. It keeps the curtains drawn on the real scandal here, the willingness of the Republicans to do anything, even encourage breaking the law, to usher in a new age of evangelical influence in United States politics.

I am not alone in that assessment. There are many existing articles supporting this premise, some quoting Republican candidates themselves. The intentions of the GOP were not secret, and have been alarming organizations like for years. However it has not been noticed widely because:

  1. Most of the articles came out too early in the election, when Trump was not taken seriously beyond the bombastic antics
  2. Many of the articles appear in evangelical news sources
  3. The actual most explicit promise to repeal was in a video released November 4, during a time the Comey letter was sucking up all the press oxygen.
  4. We are still all so aghast and focused on Trump that we wouldn’t glance twice at Pence.

The GOP is ecstatic right now. They have Trump creating drama after drama, hoping that if they can just get past the 20th they can get to their final goal.

But Pence’s disrespect for tax law matches so completely with Trump’s own. There were many last minute influences in this election. Perhaps now we know the final unseen hand.

We cannot reward the RNC for their cooperation with this entire circus.

We cannot reward them for stealing the supreme court seat by stalling.

We deserve a fresh start.

We DESERVE and will not be satisfied with anything but a new election.

Mike Pence, the hidden hand that swayed the election in the midwest.

The week of the 2016 election, while all of the news media was riveted by the now infamous Comey letter, Mike Pence participated in a project to make a final pitch to the evangelical community. Understandably they were not enthusiastic at the morality displayed by the GOP’s candidate, with the sexual assault scandals hanging over him and propensity for mocking & bullying rhetorically.

The video Mike Pence created may be the most extreme violation of the Johnson Amendment that that has ever occurred. The reasons this event stands out include:

1 — The RNC\Mike Pence produced a campaign video FOR churches, unlike having him come speak to the faithful
2 — He makes explicit political promises, in this case repeal of the Johnson Amendment itself
3 — He specifically states which candidate he is asking them to support, which when shown from the pulpit violates the churches 501(c)(3) status.
4 — It was mass-distribution, days before the election, with claims from sources friendly to Pence that 1000s of churches used it (sources at bottom).
5 — The ubiquity of evangelical churches in the midwest where the election was swung, including the popularity of megachurches, whose numbers vastly exceed those of a small local chapel.

Here is the video released just before the election:

GOP TV Clips

Now one thing I want to focus on here is something untrue Pence states. He says that the Johnson Amendment “Threatens tax-exempt organizations and churches with losing their tax status if they speak out on important issues facing the nation”.

You can clearly see that speaking out on important issues is explicitly permitted by the Johnson Amendment, per information from Project Fair Play. Repealing this amendment is absolutely NOT necessary to allow such speech.

I’ll bite my tongue on his reference to the civil rights movement as it is currently Martin Luther King Jr weekend, and Mr. Trump has kicked it off by spitting errant venom at one of the most cherished soldiers of that struggle, the honorable John Lewis.

I’ll also move past the suggestion that his is the party that represents “people who cherish life, people who cherish our liberties, and people who cherish the great traditions enshrined in the constitutions” at a time when:

  • President-Elect Trump has stated that he was not aware of the emoluments clause. It is obvious to most that he had not made the necessary preparations to allow him to avoid violating it.
  • Trump/Pence spoken about policies that will negatively affect the LGBTQ community, the Dreamers in the immigrant community, women’s rights, the black community with a return to Stop & Frisk and siding solely with the police against the concerns of Black Lives matter.
  • The GOP House & Senate have made moves to immediately remove without replacement health care via the Affordable Care Act, which may kill thousands upon thousands of people who have no alternative for life-saving drugs and treatment.

These were not the direct violation, though they violate my sense of ethics & morality.

The portion of the video showing disregard for tax law was encouraging churches to play this knowing that it DID violate their tax status by:

1 —The intentional airing\distribution of campaign “literature” to the congregation

2 — Airing to a congregation the message “Support Donald Trump and our Agenda”.

Mike Pence urged the violation of these tax laws. Mike Pence supports all of the policies we’re fighting on the hill today.

He wants vouchers to take money from public schools and direct them towards Christian alternatives. He would like the ACA repealed. He does not support LGBTQ causes, as shown by his RFRA act . He does not support Planned Parenthood and would see maternal deaths rise as they have in Texas. There are too many to list, hence the enormous groundswell of new activism to stop these policies.

We do not win ANY of these fights by being satisfied with an impeachment of Trump. We cannot reward the running mate of a stolen election.

Reference material:

Articles supporting that the video was shown in 1000s of churches:

Articles supporting Trump\Pence\GOP intentions:

Further clarification from Americans United on church electioneering:

Information from Freedom From Religion Foundation:

Information on Project Fair Play, reporting & explaining Johnson Amendment restrictions:

Short link to this article: