Tuesday’s article on the church’s involvement in California same-sex marriage campaigns raised several valid questions which are answered by a frequently-mentioned U.S. Statute.
Title 26, section 501(c)(3), describes organizations that are exempt from taxation. Part of this section clearly demonstrates that the church is well within the law in its activities to fight abortion and same-sex marriages.
The words relevant to this issue describe tax-exempt organizations as follows: ” … no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation … and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
As this law states, although tax-exempt organizations cannot participate in political campaigns for individual candidates, they are clearly allowed to influence legislation, as long as those efforts are not “a substantial part” of their activities. For large organizations, such as the LDS Church, apparently large sums of money can be a minuscule part of its overall activities. A simple review of this law helps us feel comfortable that the church’s efforts to influence legislation thus far have followed both the spirit and the letter of U.S. law.
Varden E. Hadfield