Isn't "Souls to the Polls" illegal?

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A couple of days ago, The Blade ran an article about 10 local black churches that will use vans to get their members to the early voting center this Sunday. This event will be called "Souls to the Polls." This is of particular interest to me considering that the clergy at my Catholic church was so extremely careful not to be political when Obamacare forced Catholics to betray their opposition to abortion and provide church and school employees with pregnancy termination coverage.

Much to many of his parishioners dismay, my priest explained that he couldn't talk at the pulpit to any specificity about the impact that Obamacare was having on religious freedom because the church was tax-exempt and couldn't participate in political discussion/activity.

So, how is "Souls to the Polls" not a violation of the law? It's certain that these church officials would say "we're only providing transportation." Yeah, sure.

Beware "Souls to the Polls" organizers--if you provide any participants with so much as a slip of paper with preferred candidate names or even make a voting suggestion in the van on the ride to the poll--you may be breaking the law.

It's time that Democrat Presidential candidates stop giving campaign speeches at black churches--the rules should apply to everyone.

No votes yet

Another example of how there are different rules for different groups is that I'll bet the church vans that will be used to bring the souls to the polls were purchased with some sort of government money (e.g. community grant, etc.). The funds might not have come directly from the government, but were "laundered" through it in some way. Can you imagine a Catholic church or Mormon temple getting away with this?

I don't think it's illegal unless they're telling them who or what to vote for.

MikeyA

That's exactly what they're doing. I've worked at the polls and have seen ministers hand-out flyers containing a list of who and what issues to vote for. It's not that they want their members just to vote, but to vote for specific people and issues.

Well that would be a violation.

It would put the church in jeopardy of losing their nonprofit status as well as violating campaign laws for illegal distribution of campaign materials.

I would report it to one of the precint judges and any poll watchers who are there. Any documentation handed out there should be confiscated. Document everything you see.

MikeyA

Clergy may encorage congregants to vote. They may not use their positions to direct votes for or against a particular candidate, as long as they want to maintain their tax exempt status. There is nothing preventing Catholic, Mormon, or any other religious leader from organizing transportation of anyone to the polls.
As far as partisan politics are concerned, there is a fine line which many clergy choose to follow. For example, without mentioning any candidate by name, the rabbi at the synagogue I attend made it crystal clear that he believed that Willlard would have been a better choice for POTUS in 2012 than was Obama. I'm sure that he was not alone in doing so.

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