On August 7th, Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, among others in the Trump camp, visited a church that had an endorsement day for Donald Trump. Lara Trump made an on-air flub while trying to insult Hillary Clinton, but that’s not the worst part.
Churches should NOT be endorsing any political candidates. The Antioch Road to Glory International Ministries church in North Carolina says that they are supporting Trump because of issues involving job creation and justice system reform.
There are some things churches can do to participate in politics:
- Conduct non-partisan voter registration drives.
- Distribute non-partisan voter education materials, such as Christian Coalition Voter Guides and scorecards, Right to Life and Family Council Voter Guides.
- Host candidate or issue forums where all viable candidates are invited and allowed to speak.
- Allow candidates and elected officials to speak at church services.
- Educate members about pending legislation.
- Lobby for legislation and spend no more than an insubstantial amount of their budget (five percent is safe) on direct lobbying activities.
- Endorse candidates directly or indirectly from the pulpit on behalf of the church.
- Contribute funds or services (such as mailing lists or office equipment) directly to candidates or political committees.
- Distribute materials that clearly favor any one candidate or political party.
- Pay fees for partisan political events from church funds.
- Allow candidates to solicit funds while speaking in church.
- Set up a political committee that would contribute funds to political candidates.
These churches should not be supporting any candidates at all. It’s not just about Trump (although I can’t stand him), this is clearly a separation of church and state issue. Getting involved in politics is a great thing to do, just don’t do it through a church. And if you do, then it’s time to give up those tax exemptions.