Many people believe state and federal law prevents churches and pastors from talking about “politics.”

The reality is that churches and ministers have tremendous leeway to address legislation, campaign issues, and candidates.

Below is a simple overview of what churches and pastors can and cannot do when it comes to politics, courtesy of our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom.

Discuss political issuesYesYes
Support or oppose candidates for elective public officeNoYes
Contribute money, services, or non-monetary gifts to candidatesNoYes
Raise or spend money to support or oppose candidatesNoYes
Contribute to political action committees (PACs)NoYes
Payment of expenses for attendance of a pastor or church member at a caucus or state/national political party conventionNoYes
Candidate speaks at church (outside context of candidacy or campaign)YesN/A
Nonpartisan voter registration activitiesYesYes
Nonpartisan voter identification activitiesYesYes
Nonpartisan “get-out-the-vote” activitiesYesYes
Nonpartisan voter educationYesYes
Lobby for or against legislationYes, But Limited*Yes
Support or oppose ballot measuresYes, But Limited*Yes
Spend money to advance or defeat ballot measuresYes, But Limited*Yes
Distribute nonpartisan candidate surveys or voter guidesYesYes
Distribute unbiased voting records of candidatesYesYes
Distribute candidate campaign literatureNoYes
Equal distribution of political materials by others in church parking lotsYesN/A
Rental of church facilities at regular rates (available to all candidates)YesN/A
Provide a link on church’s website to a particular campaign websiteNoN/A
Publish editorials endorsing or opposing candidates in church publicationsNoN/A
*Churches can spend an insubstantial amount of money lobbying for or against legislation or ballot issues. Family Council has been told this “insubstantial” amount is thought to be approximately 2% – 5% of the church’s overall budget. Spending money on lobbying or issue advocacy may subject a church to state or federal reporting laws.

Churches and ministers are always free to address social and moral issues — even if some people consider those issues “political.”

Churches and preachers can talk about what the Bible teaches concerning abortion, marriage, education, citizenship, government, and other issues.

Bottom Line: Churches and ministers have tremendous freedom when it comes to talking about morality, social issues, and political campaigns.