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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

The right way for a church to endorse a Presidential candidate

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Some UCC ministers have their shorts in a knot because the Alliance Defense Fund plans to use pulpits to endorse presidential candidates on September 28. From UC News:
The Rev. Eric Williams, senior pastor of North Congregational UCC in Columbus, Ohio, is troubled by ADF's plan.

On Aug. 7, Williams sent a letter to clergy colleagues in Ohio, announcing a counter action. Williams is gathering supporters who will publicly ask the IRS to investigate the ADF, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based non-profit organization.

"The promotion of tax fraud, particularly to houses of worship, is not a charitable endeavor," Williams told United Church News. "We believe that the ADF should lose its tax-exempt status."

With the support of the Rev. Robert Molsberry, the UCC's Ohio Conference Minister, Williams is calling for a UCC-led nationwide group of 500 ecumenical, interfaith clergy to use their pulpits on Sept. 21 – one week in advance of the ADF's action – to educate congregations nationwide on why church-state separation is important to ensuring religious liberty.
Perhaps Rev. Eric Williams should use the United Church of Christ's General Synod as an example of the right way of endorsing a candidate for office. Based on the appearance of Barack Obama at the UCC's General Synod, here is my list of activities that are permitted and sanctioned by the IRS:
1) When having a candidate for political office speak at your church function, there is no need to invite other candidates as long as you claim that you invited them before they were a candidate

2) Making a campaign pledge during the speech is permitted

3) Promoting the candidate's speech at your church is permitted and so is publicly validating their faith experience

4) Campaign tables, banners and posters are permitted on the sidewalks and public access areas around the church. If questioned about it later, deflect by claiming that you only invited the candidate to speak and you couldn't possibly ask the candidate to take the campaign elsewhere

5) Be creative in your endorsement of candidates. Do not forget the obligatory disclaimer that you are "not endorsing a candidate" and remember... winking and nodding cannot be transcribed in case a copy of the speech filters out to the public
With these helpful tips, you are well on your way to a meaningful (and tax free) campaign endorsement.

UPDATE: On September 8, the Drudge Report linked to a story by the Washington Post on this issue. No surprise, the Post article fails to address how Obama and the UCC established a new precedent for churches and candidates when the UCC was acquitted of bending IRS rules.
posted by UCCtruths, Tuesday, August 19, 2008

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