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Dos and Don’ts in an election season

Posted: October 22 2018 at 09:57 AM

As mid-term elections approach here are a couple of important things to remember. First, The Book of Resolutions encourages our call as United Methodist to not just be observers but to care enough about others, take a stand and call each other into a response no matter how controversial or complex. Taking an active stance in society is important. 

Next is an understanding of what this can mean for us and our churches. As a 501(c)(3), there are tax implications for churches and religious organizations that were created by Congress. Currently the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” (IRS Revenue Ruling 2007-41)

Use of our churches for meetings of a single politician or party, publications (letters, social media or email) that endorse one candidate over another, or opposes one candidate over another, is prohibited. Stepping outside of the allowed guidelines can jeopardize a church’s non-profit standing.

So what can be done? Encourage people to vote and participate in the electoral process while remaining non-partisan. Discuss issues, provided the discussion does not exhibit preferences for or against specific candidates. Churches can serve as a polling place and host a candidate if all other candidates are invited.

More information:

Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations, Internal Revenue Service Publication 1828, download at www.irs.gov/eo or order by calling 800.829.3676.

IRS Revenue Ruling 2007-41: 

www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-07-41.pdf

UMC What we believe: 

www.umc.org/what-we-believe/why-is-the-church-getting-involved-in-politics

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