Part of The Real Rules

Introduction Religious individuals and groups have played a prophetic role in public life throughout history by calling attention to oppression, demanding change, and holding leaders and institutions accountable for their actions and policies. While this is still true in the United States today, too many people are under the false impression that religious organizations cannot have a voice in the public policy arena as a result of the Constitutional separation of church and state or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. In reality, there are many activities that any religious group can do without jeopardizing its nonprofit tax-exempt status. There are restrictions on certain kinds of political actions, but the range of what is acceptable is wide enough to exhaust the time and resources of any congregation without crossing any regulatory lines. This guide is composed largely of direct quotes from the most recent and relevant IRS publications, organized in a way that is intended to be user-friendly. All references are clearly documented with footnotes. The most authoritative IRS publication on nonprofits and electoral/political activity is Revenue Ruling 2007-41, released June 18, 2007. While an excellent source of information, it is not designed for a general audience. The more accessible IRS resource is publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations (Rev. 08- 2015). To access these documents, see “Section F: