Should Pastors Defy the IRS and Support Politicians from the Pulpit? Would That Be a Good or Bad Thing?


In God We trust CoinsShould Pastors Defy the IRS and Support Politicians from the Pulpit? Would That Be a Good or Bad Thing? 

On the surface,allowing churches and pastors to openly support politicians seems to be a good thing. After all, it is tough for a believer to stay true to their Faith, stay away from the dark side of politics, and get elected to the most powerful office in the world. You can see this with Ben Carson and Governor Mike Huckabee. At the same time, it makes me wonder if the mixing of church and politics is such a good thing after all.

According to the recent statistics, more and more Pastors are putting their non-profit in jeopardy by campaigning from the pulpit. It is one thing when a pastor of a small or medium size church does it. It is another thing when a pastor of a mega-church does it and does it on national TV. Dr. Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, has openly endorsed Donald Trump.

The IRS strictly prohibits charities, churches, etc. from campaigning and or endorsing political candidates during any election season. The IRS has within its’ right to take away their tax-favored status or 501 C3 status.

This increase in political activity by the church has angered the atheists. In 2012, the Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the IRS for non-enforcement and eventually came to a settlement. This isn’t the first time the IRS has come under fire. Yet, they still don’t enforce their own laws.

In 1954, Senator Lyndon B. Johnson passed an amendment that disallowed Churches and other charities from politicizing. This has always been a fascinating topic for me for several reasons. It brings up several questions.

First, what did the politicians see in 1954 as a threat to their existence from the church that compelled them to pass an amendment this restrictive against the church?  Obviously, there was something. Politicians only exist as to insure their survival.

What if the Christian body had banned together in the last two elections?  Would President Obama had a chance?

How powerful would the church be in the election cycle if it had a voice?

Would the human nature of politics corrupt the church if allowed to become one voice?

Are these current pastors willing to show that NO contributions have been received in turn for their support from the pulpit?

Did politicians promise protection in return for their support?

Is it probably a good idea to separate politics from church?  After all,  you can’t get a little political without getting a little dirty.

Do Christians really need a tax deduction to be motivated to give to the church? Is the 501C 3 status really that important to the church?

Would pastors all over the country be willing to forego favorable tax treatment, donations and or political support from candidates, to potentially destroy politics?

Why doesn’t the IRS enforce these violations?  Would they really do it?  What kind of backlash would occur?

The Christian community is not comfortable with Donald Trump for obvious reasons. However, the Christian community might benefit more from Trump Presidency than any other President in years. He has vowed to abolish the IRS ruling against the church allowing them to support candidates without jeopardizing the non-profit status. That on the surface would be a great thing. At the same time, maybe that IRS ruling is a good thing. Politics always seems to corrupt.

  • JT

    I think a pastor directing a congregation to vote for a particular candidate in lieu of another is in general, a bad idea. The first issue is why we are in church to begin with and it probably isn’t for voting advice. This also begs the question, is it the pastor deciding who is best in an election cycle or a board of deacons, and what if they don’t share the same opinion. When they endorse any particular candidate over another, because of the nature of their position, it implies that one candidate more reflects the ideals of the church/faith over the other or perhaps said differently, one is a better Christian than another. No doubt, some within the congregation will not agree, or worse might be one of the ones not favored if a small local election, and likely will part ways as well.
    Stick to the mission, talk about political concerns as they apply to our faith and the congregation, but endorsing particular candidates over others probably should be taboo, and while a secondary concern, they probably do jeopardize their tax exempt status as well.

    • Bob Brooks

      Joe – I agree. I think it has the makings of a toxic mess. Politics in church are bad enough as it is.

  • crashtx1

    Several years ago I was visiting a “large Baptist church in Plano” and the pastor was pretty much telling the congregation how to vote, without naming names. I was thinking, here is this highly educated man trying to be cute and tell you something without telling you something. I was embarrassed. They main thing a pastor should do is encourage people to be educated and to participate in the process. We all know neither party has a monopoly being right.

    • Bob Brooks

      lol – I can guess that one pretty easily. I agree with you. The more I thought about it I came to the conclusion what a bad idea.

Subscribe to the Prudent Money E-Letter

Subscribe to the Prudent Money E-Letter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest Prudent Money news and helpful advice.

Thank you for subscribing to the Prudent Money E-Letter.