Clearly, the founding Fathers intended and expected Christians to participate in as well as lead in the political process.

John Jay, First Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court said,

“Providence has given our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”


Thomas Jefferson, our third President, spoke of our right to speak into the political process when he said,

“Should things go wrong at any time, the people will set them to rights by the peaceable exercise of their elective rights.”


Churches and Pastors have First Amendment and statutory rights to speak out on the moral issues of the day, even if those moral positions mention or touch upon a political campaign or candidate. Simply becoming a Pastor does not mean you give up your free speech rights under the First Amendment.

Indeed, there are clear First Amendment rights for Christians to share information with one another on issues of public policy. Although a church’s tax status under current law, does limit the amount of political activity in which it may engage, it does not prohibit a church from encouraging citizenship, including voter registration and voter turnout.

Organizations and churches are encouraged by the state’s election division to engage in voter registration efforts, provided they are neutral and are not conducted on behalf of any candidate or political party. The following comprises what Churches may and may not do under current law with regard to political involvement.

What Churches May Do:

  • 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.

What Churches May Not Do:

  • 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.

What Pastors May Do:

  • Endorse candidates in their capacity as private citizens – A pastor does not lose his right to free speech because he is an employee of a church.
  • Participate fully in political committees that are independent of the church.
  • Lobby for legislation in their private capacity.

What Pastors May Not Do:

  • Endorse candidates directly or indirectly from the pulpit on behalf of the church.

Legal Resources

A excellent pamphlet summarizing the most important legal aspects of pastor and church involvement in the culture war is Pastors, Pulpits, and Politics published by The Western Center for Law and Policy. You can read the entire content here and order the booklet from The Center.

For complete legal analysis and reports on what churches and pastors can and cannot do and their rights under the law, go to, a project of the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of churches.

The above information has been compiled from documents supplied by The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), Liberty Council, The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, and The James Madison Center for Free Speech.

Related Links
Letter to Pastors | Church Voter Registration | Quotes | Scripture | Legal Do’s and Don’ts