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 www.speakupmovement.org/church 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 www.pulpitfreedom.org 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 www.speakupmovement.org/church, 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.