Legal Guidance for Elections

Free legal advice to Churches and Clergy

Guidelines for Political Activities by Churches and Pastors - James Madison Center for Free Speech (PDF) - September 2007

Do's and Don'ts for Political Activities of Pastors - James Madison Center for Free Speech (PDF) - March 2006

Voting with a Clear Conscience by Fr. Frank Pavone: [Catholic Version] [Interdenominational Version] [Legal Opinion Letter about this publication in PDF format]

Legal Guidelines on What to Do in the Parish:

Voter Registration Guidelines

Voter registration drives fall within the activities that are permitted to tax-exempt organizations and churches.

Click here for guidance from the United States Conference of Catholic bishops

Click here for guidelines from the Internal Revenue Service. (PDF)

Our Voter Registration Sunday's project has been examined and approved by experts in the relevant federal laws.  Click here for more information on this project. (PDF)

A Legal Symposium: "The Church and Politics: Are We as Restricted as we Think?"

On June 17, 2003, Priests for Life and the Ave Maria School of Law co-sponsored a symposium for clergy and attorneys entitled "The Church and Politics: Are We as Restricted as We Think?"

Attorneys who spoke were James Bopp, Jr., of Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom, Professor Gerard Bradley of Notre Dame Law School, and Charles Watkins of Webster, Chamberlain & Bean.

There is much that pastors can do to call their congregations to active and informed participation in the political process. In documents like Living the Gospel of Life (1998), the US bishops have articulated such a call with clarity and passion. At the same time, many pastors remain unaware of the extent to which they can speak and act in this arena, and often believe they are far more restricted than the law actually requires. Our hope is that these symposium papers will give pastors a broader understanding of the law in this area, and assist them to fulfill their mission with greater confidence.

Their papers can be accessed, in written and audio format, by clicking the links below. 

Fr. Frank Pavone: Church and State: A Theological View [Text] and [Audio: Listen]

Gerard Bradley: The Bishops and the Court: Two Tales of Church and State [Text] and [Audio: Listen]

Charles Watkins: The Church and Politics: A Review of the IRS Guidelines for Churches [Text] and [Audio: Listen]

James Bopp, Jr.: What are the Do's and Don'ts for Churches? [Text] and [Audio: Listen]

Fr. Frank Pavone: Concluding Remarks: [Listen]

Please note this page contains information from legal experts regarding elections Tax Law.  However, this does not constitute formal legal advice.  We recommend that you consult your attorneys but at the same time we recommend that your attorneys read this information.  Click here for a statement from Fr. Frank Pavone on Priests for Life, Legal Advice, and Catholic Dioceses and Institutions.

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