What pastors can legally say from the pulpit:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.