Churches and Elections – What is the law?

You can also download a PDF of the Volume 58 Number 5 September/October 2012 (PC: Right click / MAC: Control click on the link and choose “Save As”)

From The Baptist Testimony – Volume 58 Number 5 September/October 2012

Many churches and pastors feel called by scripture to “equip the saints” to represent Christ in all areas of our society, including the voting booth. Pastors should thus be supported in their goal of helping their members be good stewards in representing Christ in their civic duties. This is especially important in light of the fact that only 1 out of every 4 Christians in America is voting.

Unfortunately, many churches and pastors have been given false information in an attempt to scare them from acting as a pastor and impacting their culture for Christ. The law is actually very supportive of pastors and churches in fulfilling their mission to equip their saints. Even as a non-profit corporation, there is very little a church may not do.

Churches may not:

  • Endorse or oppose a particular candidate.
  • Contribute to or raise money for a candidate (including free use of a church membership list)
  • Churches may (among other activities):
  • Register their members as voters.
  • Pass out Voter’s Guides.
  • Invite all candidates in a particular race to speak (O.K. if only one shows up)
  • Speak directly about specific issues and legislation (sanctity of life, marriage, etc.)

Individually, a pastor can do whatever he feels led to do: endorse, support a member’s campaign, etc. There are no limitations. The few limitations above that exist are only for the Church entity and only if the Church is a non-profit corporation.

Pastors should not be intimidated from acting as pastors, calling their people to vote and giving them information so they can best represent Christ in the voting booth.

(From the “Liberty Legal Institute,” 903 East 18th St., Suite 230, Plano, TX 75074, in association with Focus on the Family. It protects churches and religious freedoms free of charge.)

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