Churches and other religious organizations are organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which grants them tax-free status. However, this status also places restrictions on the activities and publications of these organizations. Specifically, they cannot endorse or criticize a candidate for public office.
Under the Johnson Amendment of 1954, 501(c)(3) organizations cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
That's pretty clear: no partisan campaigning. But what about social issues and advocacy? Can churches and other tax-exempt organizations speak out on the issues of the day, whether it be race relations, economic inequality, or other topics that invariably have a political undertone?
Chris Sanders Law PLLC works side by side with faithful people in Louisville, Kentucky, and around the country to address and arrive at solutions for the pressing issues that church and other organizations wish to have a voice in. Whether you’re involved in a church, a social activist group, a business, or a concerned individual, contact me and we can devise a compliant strategy.
What Can Churches Do in
The Social-Political Arena?
While the prohibition against getting involved in support of or opposition to any partisan political candidate is crystal clear, this does not preclude church leaders and members from voicing their political opinions outside the church, i.e., speaking solely for themselves.
Directly, as an organization, nonpartisan efforts are permissible during campaign season. Voter registration, voter education, and get-out-the-vote drives are permissible, so long as these don't turn into advocacy for or against any candidate. Non-partisan forums, in which candidates discuss their positions and answer questions, are also permitted, provided the program is not slanted for or against any individual politician.