Monday, September 25, 2006

Seven Do's and Don'ts for Political Campaigning by Churches

At LLM's 12th Annual Legal Seminar on November 14, 2006, we will be covering the IRS crackdown on political activities by churches. In anticipation of the upcoming Congressional elections earlier in November, Attorney Hamilton provides the following Seven Do's and Don'ts for Political Campaigning by Churches.

SEVEN DO'S FOR INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCHES IN ORDER TO KEEP TAX-EXEMPT STATUS

1. DO invite all candidates for a political office to speak to the congregation for the purpose of voter education (all candidates do not have to appear).

2. DO, before each candidate speaks to the congregation, inform the congregation that the views expressed by each candidate are those of the candidate, not the church, and that the church does not endorse any candidate.

3. DO, as a leader of a religious organization, freely express your views on political campaigns in (1) either a public forum outside of the church setting or (2) even to your congregation in the church setting.

4. DO, when making such public comments, inform the listeners or readers that you are speaking for yourself as an individual and that your comments are strictly personal and not intended to represent the church.

5. DO conduct a neutral voter registration drive at the church.

6. DO distribute a compilation of voting records in a non-partisan manner for the purpose of voter education.

7. DO speak out on public policy issues in an educational manner.


SEVEN DON'TS FOR INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCHES IN ORDER TO KEEP TAX-EXEMPT STATUS

1. DON’T make contributions to political campaign funds.

2. DON’T engage in fund raising on behalf of a candidate.

3. DON’T provide a public forum, on a partisan basis, for candidates to express their views.

4. DON’T make public statements either outside the church or within the church in favor of or in opposition to a candidate.

5. DON’T conduct a partisan voter registration drive at the church.

6. DON’T distribute a partisan voters education guide.

7. DON’T place a newspaper ad urging voters to vote for or against a candidate.

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