Churches: Avoid Mentioning Romney or Obama

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It is common for some churches and religious leaders to integrate current events and circumstances into their sermons.  Currently the hottest topics around the nation happen to be political, as the Republicans and Democrats work around the clock to impress voters.  However, if they care to avoid tax problems, churches have to be very careful not to come out in support of one candidate over another.  Out of an abundance of caution, churches (and those who speak on their behalf) should not mention specific candidates this election year.  In fact, they should do little more than encourage their congregations to vote, and maybe provide non-partisan voter education information.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.  Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.


Ordinary people are going to talk about politics at church; this is not the kind of activity that is prohibited by 501(c)(3).  But if you hear anything (or read anything) coming from those with authority to speak for your church that favors one candidate over another, or has the effect of favoring one of the candidates, you can be sure that this is a violation of the Internal Revenue Code.  Consult a tax attorney for more information.