As we approach another election cycle, it is important to remember that parishes are not to include political advertisements in their parish bulletins (or other parish publications).
The Archdiocese of Detroit Financial Policies and Procedures Manual (Policy A1) provides the following guidance:
It is also the responsibility of the pastor to protect the tax-exempt status of its parish/NPS. As such,
- Cannot accept paid political advertising
- Cannot sell or rent mailing lists for political campaigns
- Cannot endorse political candidates
While individual citizens are free to engage fully in partisan politics, churches and other 501(c)(3)institutions that qualify for tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code are not. The Church and Church organizations are not to be involved in partisan politics. Expression of preference for a political party and direct or indirect support for or in opposition, to specific candidates or political parties is not permissible. However, advocacy for or against a specific issue or ballot proposal is permissible and in fact is encouraged. Further, the Archdiocese of Detroit policy regarding distributing election materials is as follows:
“The Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors, chaired by the Archbishop of Detroit, reaffirms the long-standing prohibition of the distribution of election year material in parishes unless published by the diocesan bishop, the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) or the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Materials not published by our archbishop or either conference (MCC or USCCB) should not be distributed by Catholic parishes.”