Question about church involvement in politics
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05-11-2014, 03:16 PM
Question about church involvement in politics
Here's a scenario for you. Yesterday, Tennesseans were allowed to vote on a ballot measure that would give the state legislature the authority to make legal restrictions on abortion rights (such as possibly enacting a 48 hour waiting period). Of course, there were "pro-life" groups and "pro-choice" groups facing off about this leading up into the election. The church where I still attend to convince those around me that I still believe (don't ask, that's a subject for a different section of this forum) allowed a "pro-life" group to hand out flyers to people going in and out of the church services. So the question is, should this be legal? The questionable part is that the church is a tax-exempt organization, and seems to be promoting a specific political view in this case. I supposed their defense would be that they were just asked if this group could hand out flyers. I assume no "pro-choice" group even asked if they could, so the church could claim that they had not chosen to promote only the "pro-life" view. What do you guys think?
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05-11-2014, 04:57 PM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
I don't think there's anything wrong with handing out the fliers in church,mand I don't necessarily think it's wrong if a religious group as a whole generally promotes certain political policy. As long as the agenda they are pushing is rooted in fact. That is where the issue lies for me. Restrictions on abortions are based on nothing other than a misunderstanding of when life actually begins, and what rights a person should have over their own body. The only thing they have backing up their side in this particular case is their religion, which to many people has no basis in fact. When they realize that they can't argue their point without using their religious book, they start fear mongering, and falsifying or misrepresenting data and statistics to fit their agenda. That's where I have a problem with religion meddling in politics. That, and any policies that favor or promote one religion over another.

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05-11-2014, 05:04 PM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
In your country, as I understand it, the states have collectively decided that there should be no official religion and by extension, there is church / state separation.

To my knowledge, the church(es), mosques, tabernacles etc. have never declared anything similar.

Therefore, religions involving themselves with state matters is not against any law.

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05-11-2014, 05:40 PM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
As I understand it, churches can take stands on issues but their tax status prohibits endorsement of specific candidates. Promoting an anti-abortion message is OK but they are not supposed to tell you who to vote for.

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06-11-2014, 07:36 AM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
It is legal. I think the line is drawn at the church specifically telling people how to vote. As far as I how, the catholic church does not allow politicians to make a speech in the church or will they endorse a candidate officially. They will imply a whole lot on who you should vote for. Not sure if other denominations will do the same thing.
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06-11-2014, 07:40 AM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
(05-11-2014 05:40 PM)unfogged Wrote:  As I understand it, churches can take stands on issues but their tax status prohibits endorsement of specific candidates. Promoting an anti-abortion message is OK but they are not supposed to tell you who to vote for.

this is the way I understand it as well.

they can push agendas, but not particular candidates, which IMO, also covers not allowing a candidate to make speeches to the church membership, or buying ads in the church bulletin.


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06-11-2014, 10:20 AM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
Thanks for the responses. I didn't realize there was a legal distinction between explicitly endorsing candidates and (in this case) tacitly endorsing a ballot measure. But that does make sense. Personally I wouldn't have any issue either way if the tax status of churches wasn't different than non-religious entities.
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06-11-2014, 10:39 AM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
(05-11-2014 03:16 PM)dogerdog Wrote:  Here's a scenario for you. Yesterday, Tennesseans were allowed to vote on a ballot measure that would give the state legislature the authority to make legal restrictions on abortion rights (such as possibly enacting a 48 hour waiting period). Of course, there were "pro-life" groups and "pro-choice" groups facing off about this leading up into the election. The church where I still attend to convince those around me that I still believe (don't ask, that's a subject for a different section of this forum) allowed a "pro-life" group to hand out flyers to people going in and out of the church services. So the question is, should this be legal? The questionable part is that the church is a tax-exempt organization, and seems to be promoting a specific political view in this case. I supposed their defense would be that they were just asked if this group could hand out flyers. I assume no "pro-choice" group even asked if they could, so the church could claim that they had not chosen to promote only the "pro-life" view. What do you guys think?

Churches are supposed to be neutral on the subject of politics. Period.

Usually what they argue is that church members hand out fliers at their own expense.

Some churches have given directives to their congregation on who they should vote for, and occasionally someone will record it and send it to the IRS who will sometimes investigate. There's a lot of evidence that must be gathered and shown to violate the rules and the church has the right to appeal. Larger churches have more leeway than smaller ones and basically get away with flaunting the law.

Just because someone opens a church doesn't mean they automatically recieve the tax exempt status. They have to apply for it, and it's quite a process for a small non-denominational church. Larger churches like Lutheran, Catholic, etc., are covered under the umbrella of being part of the church -- since they control where churches are built etc.

Personally I feel, and did when I was a believer that any church who tells people how to vote (I don't even even feel they should be used as a polling place) should lose their tax exempt status. And if they are part of large organization like the Catholic church, the whole thing should be in danger of losing their protection.

Can you imagine the whole Mormon church losing their tax exempt status because of Mitt Romney?


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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06-11-2014, 10:44 AM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
(06-11-2014 07:36 AM)wazzel Wrote:  It is legal. I think the line is drawn at the church specifically telling people how to vote. As far as I how, the catholic church does not allow politicians to make a speech in the church or will they endorse a candidate officially. They will imply a whole lot on who you should vote for. Not sure if other denominations will do the same thing.

Yes. I believe st Vincent de Paul or some other national grouo that feeds the homeless had to scramble with press releases when that moron Mitt Romney felt being there would make a great photo-op.

They were concerned, rightfully so, about their tax exempt status.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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06-11-2014, 10:58 AM
RE: Question about church involvement in politics
(06-11-2014 07:36 AM)wazzel Wrote:  It is legal. I think the line is drawn at the church specifically telling people how to vote. As far as I how, the catholic church does not allow politicians to make a speech in the church or will they endorse a candidate officially. They will imply a whole lot on who you should vote for. Not sure if other denominations will do the same thing.

That is correct answer.

As noted in IRS explanations.
http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profi...anizations


The problem is that the IRS lacks the manpower to go after the church scumbags who willingly violate the law.

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