Political Do’s & Don’ts

What pastors can legally say from the pulpit:

Do:
  • Preach on moral and social issues and encourage civic involvement.
  • Engage in voter registration activities that avoid promoting any one candidate or particular political party.
  • Distribute educational materials to voters, but only those that do not favor a particular candidate or party and that cover a wide range of issues.
  • Invite candidates or elected officials to speak at church services. Churches that allow only one candidate or a single party’s candidate to speak can be seen as favoring that candidate or party. No candidate should be prohibited from addressing a church if others running for the same office have been allowed to speak. Exempt from this are public figures who may speak at a church, but they must refrain from addressing their candidacy.
  • Conduct candidate or issues forums where each duly qualified candidate is invited and provided an equal opportunity to address the congregation.
Don't:
  • Endorse candidates on behalf of the church.
  • Use church funds or services to contribute directly to candidates or political committees.
  • Permit the distribution of material on church premises that favors any one candidate or political party.
  • Use church funds to pay fees for political events.
  • Set up a political committee that would contribute funds directly to political candidates.
  • Allow candidates to solicit funds while speaking in a church.

What churches can legally do regarding elections:

Do:
  • Preach sermons on moral and social issues and civic movements.
  • Educate on the political process and political, social and legislative issues.
  • Distribute candidate surveys and incumbent voting records.
  • Encourage members to voice their opinions in favor or opposition to legislation.
  • Discuss Biblical instruction regarding particular moral, social and legislative issues.
  • Support or oppose judicial, department or cabinet appointments.
  • Support or oppose other political appointments for non-elected offices.
  • Provide use of facilities to candidates (as long as all other candidates are invited to use as well).
  • Conduct petition drives supporting or opposing legislation.
  • Support or oppose legislation unrelated to the church.
  • Support or oppose legislation that directly relates to the church.
  • Engage in voter registration activities that avoid promoting any one candidate or political party.
Don't:
  • Endorse or oppose political candidates.
  • Make contributions to Political Action Committees.
  • Post editorials in the church bulletin endorsing or opposing political candidates.
  • Campaign for candidates.
  • Conduct fundraising for political candidates.
  • Grant use of church name to support a political candidate.
  • Make contributions directly to political candidates.
  • Make in-kind or independent expenditures for or against political candidates.
  • Support or oppose judicial candidates.

Adapted from resources provided by Jay Sekulow and Faith and Family.

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