Thursday, October 24, 2019
TKC BREAKING NEWS!!! KANSAS CITY URBAN CORE FAITH LEADERS ENDORSING MLK BLVD RISK ETHICS COMPLAINT OVER POLITICS FROM THE PULPIT?!?!?
A quick preview of a Kansas City "historian" shaking his fist at a faith community as tensions rise and debate intensifies amid the street debate.
Here's the word . . .
"Churches and other nonprofits are strictly prohibited from engaging in political campaigning. This prohibition stems from the requirements of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (“Code”). However, we all know there has been a great deal of leeway granted from authorities when a cause has popular support. What we're seeing now, as this vote approaches, is outright lobbying and what looks like a brazen fundraising call to congregations from SOME faith leaders who need help getting people out there to vote in this low turnout election. It's a thin line, churches regularly drive people to the polls and it's kosher as long as they don't tell their congregants how to vote.
This is part of the reason we haven't seen much campaign material. It provides proof that faith leaders are using their position to influence elections. Word of mouth might be enough to win this vote either way. And we've heard from "Save The Paseo" supporters that they'd rather not press the issue even if the public shaming from ministers they're currently taking has really disheartened their ranks. However, that might change if ministers keep calling them 'racist' via the local media."
And so . . .
ARE KCMO FAITH COMMUNITY LEADERS RISKING THEIR NON-PROFIT STATUS BY SUPPORTING MLK BLVD?!?!
Here's a quick guide to church politics from a denizens of our blog community . . .
In order to remain tax-exempt under 501(c)(3), churches must abide by strict guidelines that prohibit election activity.
The Code states in relevant part that 501(c)(3) organizations cannot “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” I.R.C. Sec. 501(c)(3). Thus, as a 501(c)(3) organization, churches are strictly forbidden from supporting or opposing a candidate for public office. To do so jeopardizes their tax-exempt status.
Churches cannot engage in any of the following activities under the federal tax law:
- Cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office
- Cannot make any communication—either from the pulpit, in a newsletter, or church bulletin—which expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate for public office
- Cannot make expenditures on behalf of a candidate for public office or allow any of their resources to be used indirectly for political purposes (e.g., use their phones for a phone bank)
- Cannot ask a candidate for public office to sign a pledge or other promise to support a particular issue
- Cannot distribute partisan campaign literature
- Cannot display political campaign signs on church property
Under current law, churches, as well as other 501(c)(3) organizations, may engage in nonpartisan campaign activities, primarily consisting of voter education. Thus, they may organize and coordinate nonpartisan get-out-the-vote and voter registration drives; sponsor nonpartisan candidate debates or forums, so long as all legally qualified candidates are invited to appear and wide spectrum of issues are covered; educate all candidates on issues of public interest; and create legislative scorecards or voter guides. All of these permissible activities must be done on a nonpartisan basis. A 501(c)(3) entity should not even tacitly express favor or disfavor of a particular candidate or election issue.
You decide . . .