When Politics Enters the Church
When Politics Enters the Church
Rampant violations expose congregations to the possibility of losing their tax-exempt statuses.

To maintain their exemption from federal income taxes, churches and other religious organizations must comply with several requirements specified in section 501(c)(3) of the tax code. One requirement prohibits religious organizations from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. Many churches have violated this requirement in the past with no adverse consequences. Common violations include:

  • inviting individual candidates, but not all candidates, to speak during worship services
  • distributing "voter education" literature reflecting a particular candidates' views on selected topics
  • voter registration activities that favor a particular candidate or party
  • enlisting volunteers for a particular candidate's campaign
  • collecting contributions for a particular candidate
  • statements by ministers during worship services either supporting or opposing various candidates

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Posted: June 22, 2016
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