What can a church official say this about voting without crossing the line?

Does telling people that “oh, just maybe think about” how you’ll “maybe” face severe spiritual consequences for voting for That One, violate IRS rules?

Does he have to say, “you MUST vote for X” for it to violate the rules? What if he says only you SHOULD seriously think about voting for X? Or is “not voting for Z” different?

Oh, yeah: no anti-Catholic jokes or election debates, please. :cool:

The pastor at my parents’ church in Addison, TX gave a general prayer along the lines of “Whoever is elected president this week, may he be guided by God.” A few churches have been stung here in the Dallas area recently enough for most pastors to remember, and they’re being very careful.

Slight hijack but…

Does it matter to the IRS that this guy is talking to all Catholics, as a bishop, instead of to a group of parishioners in a single tax-exempt church where he is the priest?

I would think that would be the difference to the IRS… he’s representing The Catholic Church which in itself does not qualify as a non-taxable entity because it is not a thing that belongs to one city, state or nation.

But, I could be wrong so clarification would help.

I attended a lecture on this recently. Here is the document I was given.

Constitutional protection for pastors warning pdf

I don’t have time to go through it point by point, but there is a handy chart towards the end.

Very informative, Caveat lector. Thanks!

Does it violate IRS rules? It probably does. Those rules aren’t clear in parts, but this looks like a pretty clear violation of them.

Will an Obama or McCain administration lose the Catholic vote for their party for a generation by enforcing this rule strictly? What do you think? After all, Obama has had lots of Catholics from the social-justice wing of the church support him pretty openly, and he’ll want to get more Catholic voters next time around. A similar thing can be said of McCain, just opposite.

I know there is a debate here, but frankly it is merely an academic one, and everyone knows it.

Oops - didn’t mean to make this more of a debating subject in this forum. Sorry.

Note that this is a publication produced by extremely conservative (read: pro-church) groups, so it’s not exactly an unbiased source. The IRS has its own guidelines on this stuff, which are probably your best bet. I’ll see if I can dig up a .pdf.

It isn’t just Catholics. Several ministers are directly challenging the IRS. See the NY Time story here. They’re well aware they’re crossing lines, they’re hoping for a case to challenge.

He’s also theologically incorrect. As I believe I have said here in the past, this is the deal: a Catholic voter may select a pro-choice candidate based on other issues. A Catholic voter cannot morally vote for a pro-choice candidate because that candidate is pro-choice, according to the Church. It is unfortunate that bishops are getting this wrong.

It’s a hijack, but I don’t think it deserves a thread of it’s own. My voting location is in a church. Someone must have challenged this sometime in the past. I’m as uncomfortable in a church as a Baptist in a combination pornshop and liquor store. If churches get to make implied endorsements shouldn’t they be enjoined from being official polling places?

Here is the IRS pdf. Warning it is a big pdf.

In other words–right at home!
(as long as there aren’t any other Baptists around) :wink:

This came up in a Florida District Court case in 2006:

Given that the defendant won summary judgment, I can’t say if the judge ruled on the merits of the case or because the AHLC screwed up a filing or something. I also can’t find any SCOTUS cases which cover this. Gfactor probably knows of one, though.

Hijacked answer. All Catholic church buildings & property are actually ‘owned’ by the Bishop of the diocese, rather than an individual parish.

Here is what the pastor of my former Dallas church said:
…What I do want you to do on Tuesday, though, is vote FOR hope and AGAINST fear. Vote for the candidates that offer you hope for the future—
your future and the future of this country…

So, this very liberal church didn’t say, “Vote for Obama,” but said, “Vote for Hope…” which is very similar to Obama’s campaign theme.

I think its actually the property of the diocese itself rather than the bishop. I’d find you a cite but my internet is being screwy and Google is very very slow.