Image Description: A graphic with "Election Year Reminders" text at the top. Contains icons of a megaphone, a hand holding a ballot over a voting box labeled "Vote," a raised fist, a raised index finger, a pencil, and a speech bubble with a question mark. The background has blue, red, and white blocks.In this election year and every year, it is important to keep in mind that our faith doesn’t end with the final dismissal in a Sunday service and then resume the next week at 10 a.m. We walk the Way of Love with Jesus each day, in our homes and in the public square. Civic engagement through voting and helping others to register to vote is an important part of living out our faith – making sure that the voices of our neighbors are heard and their needs are represented. However, as churches, it is important to remember that each parish is a 501(c)(3) organization and thus there are limits on the political actions churches can take and breaking those limits can lead to losing your nonprofit status. 

This helpful Election Checklist for 501(c)(3) Public Charities that was prepared by Bolder Advocacy is an excellent resource to help you understand what your parish can and cannot do. Essentially, your church cannot engage in any activity that could be considered “campaign intervention.” Think of your church’s role as educational and invitational – help people learn about elections, the importance of voting, and issues while inviting them to register to vote and to turn out for elections! 

Here are some helpful reminders about dos and don’ts for churches  in this election season: 

✅ Do encourage people to vote in elections, including local elections! 

This “Vote Faithfully” Election Engagement Toolkit from The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations in 2020 is still a helpful guide on mobilizing people to vote as an act of faithfulness. The Office of Government Relations website also has a number of resources and programs to help engage faithfully in this election season.

❌ Don’t endorse a particular candidate in any election at any level. 

Endorsing or supporting any candidate in any election is certainly classified as campaign intervention.

✅ Do help people register to vote!

In New York, you can register to vote online here. Even if you think you’re registered to vote, it’s always a good idea to check your registration status through the New York State Board of Elections.

❌ Don’t make any contributions to campaigns (monetary or in-kind). 

No gray area here! Contributions to campaigns – money or other gifts – are election interference and put your 501(c)(3) status in jeopardy. 

✅ Do offer nonpartisan voter guides to help people understand issues.

There are a number of nonpartisan organizations that work to help people understand issues and candidates. Check your local area for resources. Resources like Ballotpedia and Vote411 are also helpful places to start.

❌ Don’t ask candidates to sign pledges on any issue.

If your church seeks a candidate’s pledge to vote a particular way on any issue, you are endorsing that issue and then, presumably if the candidate does make a pledge, endorsing that candidate. It’s a no-go! 


If you aren’t sure whether or not what your church is planning to do, publish, or say crosses the line into “campaign interference,” feel free to reach out to the diocesan office and we’ll help you sort through it! 

Remember, #VoteFaithfully!

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