IRS Expert Explains Rules on Electioneering in Houses of Worship

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(Washington, D.C.) – On this Sunday’s “State of Belief,” The Interfaith Alliance Foundation’s show on Air America Radio, the IRS pays a visit to Reverend Welton Gaddy – no, not for an audit.  A tax expert joins Welton to explain IRS regulations on political activity in houses of worship.  Later in the show, Welton talks to former Congressman, the Reverend Bob Edgar about the moral landscape of America.  And Welton continues to explore the religious blogosphere with Reverend Chuck Currie.

With Election Day right around the corner, political candidates on both sides of the aisle are reaching out to people of faith.  But, as IRS expert Judy Kindell warns, religious leaders must be cautious that they do not cross the line into partisan activity.  “Political candidates are familiar with state or federal election law, but they may not be familiar with IRS tax regulations.  Thus, they may pressure houses of worship to engage in activity that would jeopardize their tax-exempt status,” she said. 

However, Kindell notes the IRS regulation apply to intervention in political campaigns, and not all activity that might be described as political.  Houses of worship are free to conduct voter registration drives and candidate forums, so long as they give equal time to all candidates and do not advocate a partisan agenda. 

Also, former Congressman Bob Edgar discusses his new book, Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right.  Rev. Edgar, who is currently general secretary of the National Council of Churches, indicates that not all evangelicals are out of touch with mainstream moral values. “Every time I use the term Religious Right in my book, I use the words ‘Far Radical’ in front of it,” Edgar said.  “Because we do know there are those who get it on global warming, who get it on poverty, and while they may hold different views from mine on civil marriage and abortion, those are the people I really want to see mass together and reclaim the soul of our nation.”

Finally, this Sunday’s State of Belief features the second installment of the new feature, “Blogs of Belief.”  Welton welcomes the Reverend Chuck Currie, who writes at  Rev. Currie’s blog addresses a number of issues that concern people of faith, from Iraq to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.  But Currie is also concerned about churches that go beyond issue-based advocacy.  “I believe churches should not be sinners of partisan political action,” he said.