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Every year around this time, questions come up about churches being involved in political elections. Questions like, “Can my church talk about issues that are at stake in the election,” “can my church pass out voter guides,” or “what if a candidate wants to address my congregation?”

Admittedly, it can be confusing for churches and pastors to know what is allowed during an election season.  Much of this confusion stems from the vagueness of the tax code and the accompanying IRS regulations. To help, Alliance Defending Freedom has created many resources for you to utilize this election season.

Guidelines for Churches and Pastors

You’ll find a host of resources on that will clearly spell out what churches and pastors can and cannot do. One popular resource is the Guidelines for “Political Activities” by Churches and Pastors. These guidelines represent the current IRS law regarding what churches and pastors can do during elections. There is a helpful chart included that covers a broad range of topics, such as contributions to candidates and voter education.

Another helpful resource is the Guidelines for Distribution of Voter Guides by Churches. This resource outlines the requirements for distributing voter guides in your church. You will also find a helpful explanation for how to determine what voter guides are appropriate for distribution.

These resources should help you make sense of the law and regulations surrounding elections. However, if you still have questions, please contact us directly. Our goal at Alliance Defending Freedom is to ensure that no church is silent during this election season simply because they don’t fully understand what they can do or are intimidated by misinformation.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is all about ensuring that pastors determine what is said from their pulpits, and not the IRS or groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The goal of Pulpit Freedom Sunday is to have the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional.  The Johnson Amendment (the last sentence of section 501(c)(3) of the tax code) has proven to be a weapon of censorship and intimidation of churches during election seasons.  In fact, groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State frequently send letters to pastors trying to intimidate them into silence on the biblical issues surrounding elections. But we believe pastors and church leadership should determine what’s said from the pulpit, not the government or other organizations outside of the church.

On Pulpit Freedom Sunday, October 7, 2012, hundreds of pastors will stand together and preach a sermon that evaluates the candidates running for office in light of Scripture and Church doctrine.  Please go to and sign up to join this growing movement of bold pastors. If you are a pastor and you cannot participate on October 7, then pick a Sunday as close to that date as you can, but before the election. You can still sign up to participate and make your voice heard. Pulpit freedom is vital and this project is an important means of ensuring that much of the confusion and intimidation confronting churches during elections is removed.

It is our hope that these resources, and the many others you’ll find on, will help you as a pastor fulfill your biblical calling to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Tim. 4:2). This calling extends even during election cycles, as biblical Truth does not take a holiday during a political campaign. Now, more than ever, the voice of America’s churches must be heard.



The future of religious freedom depends on a free pulpit to communicate fundamental, biblical principles to congregations across America. Join a growing movement of bold pastors preaching biblical Truth about candidates and elections from their pulpits on October 7, 2012.

For More Information on Pulpit Freedom Sunday:

Get the latest updates, news, videos and resources for Pulpit Freedom Sunday 2012.
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By Pastor Kevin Baird

Pastor Kevin Baird

I have been a pastor for over 28 years, and for many of those years of ministry I preached under a misconception that many (if not most) pastors live under, as well. It’s the misconception the IRS perpetuates through the Johnson Amendment to the 501 (c)(3) code that restricts our rights as pastors to apply the Bible to what might be deemed “political.” For year, I avoided many topics from the pulpit because I mistakenly thought that if I broached that topic I could jeopardize the church’s tax-exempt status. There was always this subtle “fear” that the IRS would sweep in and impose some kind of monstrous repercussion.

As my ministry matured through the years and I became more convinced that the Bible is to be applied to every arena of life (including public policy discussions and “politics”), I came to this crossroads again. Would I stand, declare, and apply the whole Word of God to my congregation with regards to these subjects, or would I tacitly allow the IRS to be a content manager of my sermons? It was during this season that I was introduced to the great people of Alliance Defending Freedom. This amazing team of attorneys took the time to help educate and inspire me to press forward in not only my First Amendment right of free speech, but in all reality, my mandate from God to speak into the culture.

So, when I heard about the Pulpit Initiative and the scheduling of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, I immediately wanted to participate. This coming year will be my third official year of being a participating pastor. On that Sunday, I intentionally prepare a message that addresses a current public policy or “political” issue and use the Scripture to either endorse it or critique it. For example, this year I am considering using the topic: “A Biblical Referendum on the Policies of our Current Administration.” At the end of the message I will make what I consider to be a biblical conclusion concerning the election. I will then do what I have done in previous years.  I will make the message public through all our media venues and also send the IRS a copy. I have to admit in my first year of participation I did have a slight residue of the fear that I previously lived under. After all, how many of us have lived under that self-imposed censorship for years?

What was the outcome of doing that?

I have never been contacted by the IRS and, to be candid, I do not expect to be. My congregation has been incredibly supportive and grateful for my leadership in this regard. I suspect many congregations are waiting to cheer their pastors forward if only their pastor would take the step and participate.

One of the good feelings is knowing that behind my ministry is the incredibly capable Alliance Defending Freedom team who will bring the resources and legal expertise should my sermon ever be challenged by the government. I could not encourage pastors more emphatically to get involved with Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Shake off the fear, embrace your call, and become a part of a powerful movement of pastors on Pulpit Freedom Sunday, October 7, 2012.


Speaking out on political and social issues requires special courage for pastors, many of whom walk a tightrope entwined of strands both practical and theological.

Persecution of churches is a subtle but very real – and growing – threat around the U.S. today. Pastors and church leaders who speak out boldly can suddenly find themselves facing new tax laws, zoning challenges, and even graffiti and vandalism from groups opposed to what a church teaches. American Christians long immunized from such aggressive opposition are often loath to see persecution as a privilege (Acts 5:41).

Nor is all the opposition external. Many pastors are understandably concerned that making strong, declarative statements about political candidates and/or politicized issues will alienate significant persons in or percentages of their congregation. The price for that kind of alienation may be measured in anything from tithe checks withheld to memberships dropped.

And yet: speaking out on the character of our leaders and the issues of our time is a clear mandate of Scripture, modeled throughout the Bible by prophets like Nathan and Jeremiah and preachers like Stephen and John the Baptist – not to mention Jesus Himself, who answered questions on still-hot topics like the meaning of marriage (Matthew 19:4-6), taxes (Matthew 22:21), and the character of public officials (Mark 8:15, Luke 13:32).

Clearly, those vested with the responsibilities of church leadership are expected to speak truth to – and about – power, whether that power is represented by political authority or other Christians en masse.

One of the most fascinating explorations of what it means to confront ungodly political leadership is detailed in the adventures of Elijah, in the book of 1 Kings, as he duels for the soul of Israel with weak-souled, selfish King Ahab and his implacably evil queen, Jezebel.

Both in one-on-one encounters (17:1, 18:8, 21:20) and before all the people (18:20ff.), Elijah bluntly confronted the monarch with his sins. But the prophet also offered Ahab messages of hope (18:41), and even looked out for his personal safety and welfare (18:44). His actions are reminiscent of those of then-still-private-citizen David toward King Saul, as recorded in 1 Samuel, and of Paul toward Felix and Agrippa (Acts 26).

The Bible never prompts us to mock our leaders, hate our leaders, or pray for their destruction – indeed, we are directed to treat all those in authority with unswerving respect (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:17). But the Bible also teaches that the highest respect we can give to anyone – government official or fellow church member – is to speak the truth to that person, in love (Ephesians 4:15).  Jesus declared Himself the ultimate embodiment of truth (John 14:6), so to speak truth is, quite literally, to speak – to reveal – Christ to the one we address.  Indeed, it’s impossible to give a faithful witness to anyone, whatever their station of life, unless we are willing to tell them the truth.

As spiritual leaders, pastors face an extraordinary and unique responsibility in this critical season, as Christians join their neighbors and strangers in communities coast to coast in making the choices of the ballot box, deciding not only candidates for national, state, and local offices, but political questions with enduring import for our country. Our prayers are with every conscientious pastor who braves the dangers of the pulpit and the public square …

… working to speak the truth of Christ not in vague generalities, from the safety of charming ecclesiastical clichés, but in firm, clear, straightforward, biblically-grounded specifics that take an unwavering stand on even the most divisive issues of our day.

May God give each of His servants, coast to coast, the courage and wisdom to discern His truth, communicate it in love, and accomplish His purpose for the people of America.


When a man asks a woman to marry him, he asks her to share his name. When he joins a club, a team, or a church, he links his own identity to the group he is joining. Understandably, he wants the name to stand for something clear and meaningful.

For some time, many within our organization have been concerned that our name, Alliance Defense Fund, does not sufficiently, accurately convey who we are and what we do. It was the name chosen by our Founders, for good reasons at the time. Back then, we were not engaged in any direct litigation ourselves – we provided legal and financial resources for other Christian attorneys. So, the term “fund” was very appropriate.

Nowadays, though, we do our own litigating. We actively defend clients and engage the opposition. We are moving beyond our country’s borders, seeking out means and opportunities to protect the freedom of people of faith all over the world.

Alliance Defense Fund is now Alliance Defending Freedom“Alliance Defense Fund” did not really capture any of this very well. So, after thorough research, careful planning, and intense preparation, we are making a transition. Beginning this month, the new name of Alliance Defense Fund is “Alliance Defending Freedom.”

We want this new name to communicate two crucial themes: stewardship and reputation.

Our old name caused confusion for almost everyone – allies, Allied Ministry Friends, clients, the media. This is poor stewardship. The nature of the work we do requires us to secure resources and assure clients and allies by conveying quickly and clearly who we are, what we do, and why it matters. Anything that impedes this understanding is a hindrance to our ministry. It damages the efficiency, and ultimately, the impact of what we do, thereby, making it unworthy of the God who has given us our mission.

Our new name changes this. Alliance Defending Freedom tells people what is important to us: building alliances. It tells people what we do: we defend. It tells people what our goal is: freedom. It’s simple. It’s straightforward. It resonates. This is good stewardship.

Our reputation is what people think of when they hear our name. We do not want them thinking of us as a “fund.” We want them to associate us with freedom. We want them to know that we are passionate about defending freedom…that defending it is the mission of our lives…that we defend it “for faith” and “for justice.” This is why we have built our new logo around these two phrases – to affirm our purpose of opening doors for the Gospel, and to ensure equality before the law for people of faith.

We hope this new name will resonate with you because we value deeply all of those who stand with us, work with us, and fight with us in the cause of religious freedom.

After all, this is what our ministry has always been: an alliance defending freedom. With this rebranding, we are just making it official.



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