Politics from the Pulpit?

I’m a writer, not a preacher, so I can’t authorize what comes from the pulpit. But “Politics from the Church Newsletter” just doesn’t have the ring to it, and as we all know, it’s all in the headline.

No matter. Whether it’s from the pulpit or the church newsletter, the same thought applies: Politics are a no-no.

As we approach this autumn’s political firestorm, it’s important to remember the tax-exempt status of churches, religious organizations and ministers. This “favorable treatment,” as the IRS refers to the special tax laws applied to non-profit organizations, does come with restrictions.

What does this mean?

Well, if your organization feels compelled to communicate a political endorsement, think again.

By law, Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations are prohibited in becoming directly or indirectly involved in campaigns of political candidates. Like all laws, this has become subject to interpretation, whether you’re preaching from the pulpit, publishing a newsletter or hosting a speaker.

Interpretations or not, apparently the IRS doesn’t overlook the law.

In Pasadena, CA., an Episcopal church nearly lost its non-profit status because of a stance on the Iraq War. In Minnesota, a suburban church came under scrutiny when it invited a candidate to speak on its premises.

So why take the chance? Why disobey the law? Our nation was founded on the ideals of separation of church and state. That includes us too.

“Render unto Caesar…” Luke 20:25.

1 thought on “Politics from the Pulpit?”

  1. If I’m not mistaken, I believe you can host a candidate to speak, however, you must offer equal time to other candidates, as well. This is all in the spirit of bipartisanship.

    As Christians, we often complain about the separation of church and state. Yet our complaints only apply when they negatively affect us. We want to express our religious faith but we don’t want others to express theirs. That’s not how it works.

    Separation of church and state is a gift that allows us to worship as we choose. We need to abide by complete separation. As you said, that’s what our nation was founded upon.


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