Student-Faculty Luncheon Discussion Focuses on Churches, Taxes, and Politics
Web Editor - Published: October 28, 2010
On Tuesday, October 26th, Professor Nick Mirkay led a discussion about churches, taxes, and politics with a group of faculty, students, and staff on the Delaware campus.

Before opening up the discussion, Professor Mirkay spoke briefly about how most churches were classified under the Internal Revenue Code as 501(c)(3) organizations. This classification exempts churches and certain other non-profit organizations from federal income taxes.

In order to maintain their tax exemptions, 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from  intervening in political campaign activities related to elections to public office. Such organizations are permitted to do a limited amount of lobbying to influence legislation, however. They are also permitted to engage in or support voter education, voter registration, and public forums and debate so long as the activities are conducted in a non-partisan manner. Professor Mirkay also covered some notable Supreme Court cases, including United States v. Christian Echoes Nat. Ministry, Inc. (1972).

A lively and engaging discussion followed Professor Mirkay’s remarks, with both faculty and students offering their thoughts and asking questions. Topics touched on included the use of Political Action Committees to circumvent the prohibitions on political activities, whether or not the tax exemptions for churches are necessary for their function or simply a benefit offered by the government, and the public policy reasons to prohibit churches from political campaign speech. Several students observed that because some people place great weight on what their religious leaders say there is a potential for undue influence that might impact freedom of choice.