The IRS and Churches

This week, an IRS official told pastors in Washington to be careful about political activities that might endanger a church’s tax-exempt status.  The Associated Press reported that Peter Lorenzetti told the Faith Leaders Summit that pastors should avoid endorsing or opposing candidates or making contributions to their campaigns.  Lorenzetti said that churches were free to distribute voter guides that inform voters on political issues as long as they do not favor a particular candidate.

This can be a confusing issue for pastors and church leaders.  Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, had this to say about this topic. “Not one church has ever lost tax-exempt status for supporting or opposing a candidate for public office.”  Mat added, “Pastors can always speak on biblical issues.  Further, pastors and churches can encourage members to register to vote, urge them to vote, and educate members about the views of candidates on a variety of issues.”

I know this to be true because Thomas Road Baptist Church has held voter-registration drives and distributed legal voter guides for many years.  There is a lot of scare-mongering on this issue, but pastors should feel free to be vocal in educating their congregations on important political-social issues.  Remember, as believers, we are to pray for our leaders (I Timothy 2:1-2) and be wise in all that we do (Matthew 10:16), including voting.