Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Politics at the Pulpit

Should non-profits, specifically churches be allowed to keep their tax exempt status if they are political organizations? The question is relevant. There's a move afoot in the U.S. Congress to allow churches to preach politics and openly support politics and still keep their tax exempt status. Stanley Fish has an enlightened essay on the subject.

This question is a doozy. Should we allow donations collected from the congregation be used for campaign commercials? But, how in the world can the government tell churches what they can or cannot with their money? Talk about a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment!

Yet, tax exempt status, according to the IRS, means you cannot engage in biased political activity. Actually, your organization can, but it won't keep its tax exempt status. But, you can see the problem here. Do we want Uncle Sam taxing churches, potentially performing audits into the financial affairs of our churches? I imagine most people will say that is one place the feds should stay away from.

My conclusion is to allow churches to preach all they want about politics, but not allow individual congregations to make official endorsements or do any official work on behalf of a party/candidate. Volunteering by church members is perfectly acceptable.

1 comment:

JD said...

Here is my solution, let's tax these churches.