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How and Where to Lodge a Complaint About Political Church Activities

It’s a matter of law: non-profit organizations, including churches, must refrain “from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office” so long as they wish to be exempt from taxation for the large number of government services they receive.

Just because it’s against the law and the ethical standards of their own voluntary agreements with the government doesn’t mean that churches won’t go ahead and do it anyway. Far too often, churches want to have their cake (government services without having to pay taxes) and eat it too (interfering in political campaigns).

If and when you have evidence of a church violating the law and the standards of its own voluntary tax-exempt agreement with the IRS, there are two places you can report the violation.

1. Tell the IRS. Use Form 13909 to report any non-profit organization’s violation of its agreement with the government. The form allows you to make an anonymous report if you wish, and it also allows you to indicate that “I am concerned that I might face retaliation or retribution if my identity is disclosed.” Any relevant documentation of the violation can be included along with the form. As the form itself indicates, “The completed form, along with any supporting documentation, may be mailed to IRS EO Classification, Mail Code 4910DAL, 1100 Commerce Street Dallas, TX 75242-1198, faxed to 214-413-5415 or emailed to eoclass@irs.gov.”

2. Tell Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. The organization (AU for short) has set up a dedicated website called Project Fair Play with a set of guidelines on politics for churches and other non-profit organizations and an online form through which you can report violations of the prohibition on church politicking. A team of researchers and legal experts employed by AU will look into your report. The advantage here is that with their resources, expertise and dedicated time they may be able to assemble a better case to the IRS than you could on your own.

2 comments to How and Where to Lodge a Complaint About Political Church Activities

  • Jim

    I’m not an AU partisan. The IRS is actively investigating. And if they bust the church’s tax exempt status, I have no problem with that. You have a problem with the AU, use the IRS tool.

  • irregularwife

    Having religion in politics and politics in religion reminds me of that Resse’s PB cup commercials back in the early 80s (“You got your chocolate in my PB…”, etc.)

    But the fact is that religion and politics are NOT “two great tastes that taste great together.” Not in the public sphere, certainly, where their combination at best incites skeptics to the message, and at worst stirs up those who favor theocracy.

    I like my church for its ideals, one of which include prosletizing, so I won’t mention any here.

    I like my country for its ideals, one of which is, of course, freedom of religion (to have one if ya like, or not, or just wonder about it now and then.) As so many greater thinkers than I have stated before, because there is freedom of religion among our citizens, the state cannot promote one particular religion. A government promoting religion amounts to theocracy. Thus, theocracy takes away our freedom to think as we do and insist we act like we agree with the state’s choice of religion.

    Interesting that we can have churches investigated for political speech, but no recourse for politicians who invoke religion in their talk. For me, such speech is like seeing them naked. I don’t WANT to know about your faith. How do I know you’re sincere? Best not to bring it up. It sounds so FAKE when they do.

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