The exemption loss lie
At several Oregon churches the last few Sundays, worshipers have been asked to sign a petition for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

"The campaign … has raised questions about how far churches can go to promote ballot measures without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status, which carries some limits on political activity," writes James Mayer of The Oregonian. Later in the story Mayer goes into more detail:

About 1,000 churches are involved in the petition drive, said Ray Cotton, pastor of New Hope Community Church in Clackamas and an organizer of the Defense of Marriage Coalition.
Cotton said tables are set up in the church foyer and people are encouraged to sign the petitions after the service. About 1,000 people signed May 30, he said, the first serious effort to get signatures. …
[Basic Rights Oregon communications director Rebekah] Kassell said her group is monitoring the political activity of the churches working to get the initiative on the ballot.
"Talking about the issue is one thing," she said. "Actively collecting signatures, launching a political organization and gathering funds to defeat or support a ballot measure, that's something else."
The risk for churches is the loss of their federal tax-exempt status as nonprofits. … Federal laws prohibit tax-exempt churches from supporting or opposing candidates for office. … The laws do allow some lobbying on legislative matters, which include ballot measure signature drives. Lobbying cannot exceed an "insubstantial" share of the church's overall activities. The law doesn't define the term. One court said churches can devote less than 5 percent of their activities to lobbying without jeopardizing their status, though ...
Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Weblog
Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
Previous Weblog Columns: