CBS News affiliate WHNT, based in Huntsville, Ala., reported Monday that The Living Way Ministries Church, in Opelika, Ala. was facing a torrent of criticism over a church sign that read:
"They falsely accused Jesus. Vote Roy Moore."
WHNT spoke with the church and verified that it's true the message had in fact appeared on its sign but also said that there were "several people" who held keys to the sign, and it was one of those individuals who had put up the message, and not the pastor. Two days after the message was posted, the pastor asked to have the message taken down, a woman affiliated with the church told WHNT.
Though the sign has reportedly been taken down, the church is facing a social media firestorm, with online users demanding that the church be disallowed from receiving tax exemptions, given that it defied, if briefly, an IRS prohibition against endorsing a political candidate.
This prohibition, known as the Johnson Amendment, has been part of the tax code since 1954, and it bans non-profit groups from endorsing or opposing political candidates. It was named for Lyndon Johnson, who introduced it while he was a U.S. senator.
President Trump campaigned on repealing the amendment, arguing that it was an issue of free speech for churches. In the tax bill passed by the House, the measure was repealed, but it was not repealed in the Senate bill.