Frequently Asked Questions
Question: I thought faith communities are not supposed to be political? Isn’t this initiative asking us to do something we are not supposed to do?
Answer: As a religious organization exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, religious organizations (including most congregations, denominations and faith-based organizations like EcoFaith Recovery) are prohibited from engaging in partisan politics. This prohibition commonly includes the following:
- Faith communities with 501(c)(3) status cannot endorse or oppose a candidate for public office
- Faith communities with 501(c)(3) status cannot make a campaign contribution to or expenditure for or in opposition to a candidate for public office
- Faith communities with 501(c)(3) status cannot rate candidates on issues relevant to the issues we care about
- Faith communities with 501(c)(3) status cannot let candidates use our facilities or resources, unless they are made available to all candidates at fair market value
Question: What does the IRS allow 501(c)(3) religious organizations to do where it concerns the political process?
Answer: The IRS affirmatively states that 501(c)(3) organizations may conduct voter engagement or connect with candidates on a nonpartisan basis. This includes the following activities to encourage voter participation, educate voters, and to engage with candidates about issues:
- Conduct or Promote Voter Registration
- Educate Voters on the Voting Process
- Host a Candidate Forum
- Create a Candidate Questionnaire
- Distribute Sample Ballots or Nonpartisan Voter Guides
- Continue Issue Advocacy during an Election
- Support, Oppose or Host a Community Conversation on a Ballot Measure
- Encourage People to Vote
Questions: If the IRS does not allow religious organizations to engage in partisan politics, does that mean that the action teams individuals will be forming if they participate in this initiative cannot be partisan either?
Answers: No, As individuals or groups of individuals acting outside of our faith communities, individuals are free to engage in partisan politics by working for candidates, making contributions to candidates, and endorsing or opposing candidates.