Federal tax law, as it relates to tax-exempt religious ministries, is pretty clear — houses of worship may not legally intervene in political campaigns, either in support of or opposition to a candidate or a party. Those who violate the law run the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. With some regularity, the IRS reminds houses of worship about this, warning them about the dangers of ignoring the law.
A far-right group in Arizona, however, has an idea: conservative churches should ignore the law — and in the process, test the law — on purpose.
A conservative legal-advocacy group is enlisting ministers to use their pulpits to preach about election candidates this September, defying a tax law that bars churches from engaging in politics.
Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz., nonprofit, is hoping at least one sermon will prompt the Internal Revenue Service to investigate, sparking a court battle that could get the tax provision declared unconstitutional.
Those ministers the ADF are targeting need to think long and hard about this, because they're playing a game they're going to lose here.