The first amendment to the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The IRS tax code for 501(c)(3) organizations (including religious organizations) interprets the constitution as follows:
All IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, must abide by certain rules:
- their net earnings may not inure to any private shareholder or individual;
- they must not provide a substantial benefit to private interests;
they must not devote a substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation;
- they must not participate in, or intervene in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office; and
- the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.
This policy has served both the church and the state well. It does not prevent churches from supporting causes like civil rights, welcoming refugees, access to health care, anti death penalty, and many more. Now, President Trump is proposing an executive order that will allow churches to support and campaign for SPECIFIC candidates. His executive order should be challenged in the courts.