In an opinion piece in the Sunday, October 30, Valley News, Professor Randall Balmer observes that "leaders of the Religious Right in recent years...have been pushing for a repeal of the Johnson Amendment [a provision in the tax code that prohibits tax-exempt organizations from openly supporting political candidates, passed by Congress in 1954 and named for Lyndon Johnson, then a U.S. senator]." The Religious Right argues that "pastors should be able to make political endorsements from the pulpit without jeopardinzing their churches' tax exemptions [and]the fact that they cannot now do so...represents an infringement on their religious freedom." Balmer argues, however, that "the Johnson Amendment is a good idea and should not be repealed. Religion has flourished in the United States as nowhere else in the world precisely because the government has (for the most part, at least) stayed out of the religion business, and vice versa." The Johnson Amendment, he notes, "merely reinforces the wall of separation between church and state that was advocated by Roger Williams, founder of the Baptist tradition in America, and encoded into the First Amendment to the Constitution. And we should also remember that Williams wanted a "wall of separation" between the "garden of the church" and the "wilderness of the world" because he feared that the integrity of the faith would be compromised by too much entanglement with politics." And that is "a lesson worth recalling today, especially in the presence of politicians peddling snake oil," Balmer concludes. Read an update in the February 2, 2017 Los Angeles Times.