Advisory for USA Clergy Responding to Politics and Elections

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Recently the Moderator, Rev. Elder Cecilia Eggleston, shared a Reflection on expressing faith as activism. Social Justice is one of MCC’s Core Values. We express our faith as activism in our local, regional and global work for social justice. When vital issues of social justice are at the core of political elections, the churches and members of MCC in that country are called to express their faith as activism. We do that by voting, getting out the vote, and prophetic preaching and teaching.

The United States of America has an important election in the very near future. This is a time for local, regional, and national spiritual activism. There are laws that must be followed to protect the charitable status of the church, however, there is much that can be done.

This Advisory and Toolkit contains important information for navigating these boundaries while speaking truth to power.

Pastors, Boards, and Lay Leaders ought not be so afraid of the laws (or other bureaucratic nonsense) that they remain silent or feel that they cannot do anything. Everyone is free to speak up and speak out as an individual. Every one of our members has the right to exercise their vote. As our Moderator once said, “The ballot box is one way in which we help create heaven on earth.”

We urge Pastors to preach on issues of social justice. As the Pastor or on behalf of the church, while we cannot endorse or speak against a particular candidate or political party, we can speak to the issues that are at the heart of this election: racial justice, climate change, health care, economic justice, etc. This is a time for prophetic preaching on the issues of our time. Let your voice be heard in the pulpit and the public square.

Individually, you are free to be involved in political organizing and events. Clergy, Board Members, and Lay Leaders are always free to express their political positions as an individual! If speaking to the press or writing editorials, please speak as an individual and use a disclaimer. To protect your rights and the Church, please note that “Church affiliation is included for identification purposes only.” It is wise to also state that you are speaking as an individual person of faith and not in your official capacity.

This official IRS document provides a number of situations and examples that illustrate what is legally permissible and what is not. It addresses approaches to voter registration efforts, press conferences, and inviting candidates to speak at the Church. Please take time to review the various scenarios. It clarifies important do’s and don’ts. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-07-41.pdf

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is encouraging people to take advantage of options that allow them to cast their ballot safely and securely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Request Your Ballot” function of HRC’s Voter Resource Portal allows people to request a ballot and learn about all of the voting options available in their state. This is information that may be helpful to share with your congregation. Some states begin distributing ballots in September while others have deadlines on requesting absentee ballots. It is important to get this information out as soon as possible. The recent slow down of postal service (real or perceived) makes time of the essence to ensure that ballots are received and counted. Here’s the link to the HRC Voter Resource Portal: https://action.hrc.org/IPB3pNS

What Can I Do?

  • Educate yourself on any federal and state laws pertaining to churches and political campaigns
  • Register to Vote, and actually VOTE! (Rev. Elder Troy Perry recently stated in a press event that he believes it is a sin not to vote!)
  • Assist members and attenders of your church with voter registration, polling station location information, absentee ballot procedures, and important deadlines
  • Preach and teach on the issues and the teachings of our faith
  • Express your faith as activism for social justice.

Please take time to read the information in the links below. We want you to be aware and active in this election season.

BE MCC in your local area. BE MCC for social justice.


Overview from IRS:
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/charities-churches-and-politics

This link from the IRS addresses what the law defines as political campaign intervention by churches and charities:
https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/charities-churches-and-educational-organizations-political-campaign-intervention

Stay Exempt – a video presentation from the IRS regarding political campaigns and charities:
https://www.stayexempt.irs.gov/home/existing-organizations/political-campaigns-and-charities
This is a PDF of the content shared in the video mini-course above:
https://www.stayexempt.irs.gov/se/files/downloads/PoliticalCampaigns_Print.pdf

A Quick Guide to Political Campaign Activities by Churches – from Church Law and Tax: https://www.churchlawandtax.com/cltr/2008/september-october/political-campaign-activities-by-churches-analysis-of.html

The Do’s and Don’ts of Political Activities by Churches – from Church Law and Tax:
https://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2020/june/guide-to-dos-and-donts-of-political-activities-by-churches.html

Do We Know the Risks of Church Political Activity? – from Church Law and Tax:
https://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2020/may/do-we-know-risks-of-church-political-activity.html


September is National Suicide Prevention Month in the USA.

The Trevor Project is sharing a simple way to support LGBTQ youth mental health and help prevent suicide. Show them you CARE – Connect, Ask, Respond, Empower. Visit TRVR.org/CARE to watch our experts discuss practicing CARE in your daily lives, learn more about the meaning behind CARE, and share the inspiring messages of CARE on social media.