During every election cycle, many religious congregations find themselves wondering what role, if any, they can play in the political process. Can a minister, rabbi, imam or other member of the clergy endorse a candidate from the pulpit or speak on political issues of interest to voters? Is a church or other house of worship legally permitted to register voters or distribute voter guides? Answers to these and many other questions are contained here.
This guide sets out in plain English the rules governing political activity that apply to nonprofit organizations (including churches and other religious groups) that are exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The 2008 edition of the guide updates versions previously published by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in 2004 and 2002. The report was written by Deirdre Dessingue, Associate General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Ms. Dessingue is a leading expert on the taxation of religious organizations, and she has written a straightforward and practical guide to the law on these matters. The report also has been vetted by a number of other prominent legal experts in this field.
Read the full report Politics and the Pulpit 2008 on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life Web site.