Church and Politics

Meredith Garmon

The Supreme Court recognized in Walz v. Tax Commission, back in 1970:
“Adherents of particular faiths and individual churches frequently take strong positions on public issues including vigorous advocacy of legal or constitutional positions. Of course, churches as much as secular bodies and private citizens have that right.”
What the congregation can’t do, under IRS regulations for nonprofits, is advocate for or against any specific candidate for elective office, or any political party. But churches, temples, synagogues, mosques – congregations of any faith – may certainly engage on issues of public policy -- including elected and appointed political leaders.

So I will not, from the pulpit, or in CUUC newsletters or emails, or in CUUC-connected blogs, speak for or against any specific candidate or party. When communicating through those channels, I have avoided even saying the name of either of the major party nominees for president. When communicating through certain other channels, such as social media, I haven't been shy about naming names and expressing my opinions of candidates, but I do so as an individual citizen, not as the CUUC minister.

Since Nov 8, however, Mr. Trump and Sec. Clinton are no longer candidates. We, as a nonprofit, may express our support or our opposition for any elected or appointed leader, as well as any policy issue or legislative proposal. Until such time as Mr. Trump announces that he is running for re-election in 2020, he is not a candidate. We, as a nonprofit faith community, may vociferously and explicitly denounce or support his actions or his words.

Indeed, I believe that it is our obligation -- as a people of faith who covenant to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion, and the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all -- to do so.

For more info, see: "The Real Rules: Congregations and the IRS Guidelines on Advocacy, Lobbying, and Elections" (21 page PDF)

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