Politics is often taken to be a dirty word, but political processes are simply the way communities organize their common life. For people of faith, public policy is never merely politics. It is a way of living out the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
It is fitting for local congregations and church structures across the country to develop nonpartisan programs to help the faith community reflect upon the political order. The Our Faith Our Vote Campaign is designed to help you discover the ways in which you, as an individual and as a congregation, can get involved in the political process.
Our country is in crisis in many ways. It is time for well minded, engaged and faithful people to speak out and get involved in the political process. Let's go public with our faith! We'll show you how!
Guidelines for Congregations and Clergy on Political Action
Because the political activities of churches are limited due to their IRS Tax exempt Status, it is important to know what your rights are. This guide will help you understand what kind of activities UCC churches can undertake to raise our voices in the elections in ways that are legally protected. Download.
- “IRS Code Prohibitions on Political Campaign Interventions,” Memo from UCC Office of General Council.
- "Consequences of Losing Tax-Exempt Status," Memo from UCC Office of General Council.
- See full IRS Guidelines
The first phase of the Our Faith Our Vote campaign is to launch a voter registration drive at your church. Our goal is to have every eligible voter at your UCC church registered and voting. The publicity that your voter registration effort receives in the church will likely spark a conversation about the importance of expressing our faith through civic participation and getting your church members out to vote. Download.
Observe National Voter Registration Day on September 27th!
- Check out our voter registration tips.
- Register to vote.
While it's true that churches as 501(c)3 organizations cannot support or oppose a candidate for political office, there are many ways to appropriately and faithfully engage in dialog about the issues at stake. For examples, check out our issue briefs on campaign financing, immigration, mountain top removal, etc. Download.
Organize a Candidate Forum
Many people do not vote because they don't feel connected to the candidates or the issues at stake in an election. Holding candidate forums helps open up the communication between candidates and their constituents and gets people interested in an election. Where better than your church to hold an open dialog? Think about the officials running for office in your community. This guide can help you plan an event that makes sense for your church, whether it be a full fledged debate or a coffee hour with the candidates. Download.
An average election in the United States has around 60% of the eligible voting population turning out at the polls. There are a variety of reasons that people don’t get out and vote: their job schedule does not allow it, they are away and didn’t apply for an absentee ballot, disillusionment with the political atmosphere, among others. With the rise in popularity of suppressive voting legislation, we may see an even lower turnout than normal in this election. What can we do to get out the vote?
Colleges are the perfect place to engage people about the elections. By working on a campus you can work with students, professors, and the community at large to develop creative and effective ways both to encourage voter registration and increase voter participation. The campaign can serve as a focal point for common discourse, promote the vital responsibility of citizenship and enhance the role of the campus as a setting where ideas and issues are openly and vigorously debated. No where else will you find more energy and passion than on a college campus. Check out our College page for some ideas. Learn more.
Youth bring a unique perspective and tangible energy to election year activism. Although young people under 18 may not be able to legally cast their votes, their voices can still be heard. There are a number of ways for youth to participate in elections and make an impact on their future. This guide contains some to get you started. Download.