The Church’s policy of political neutrality doesn’t extend to members. We’re of course free to endorse political candidates and platforms and to try and drum up support for particular candidates or political points of view. As Church members we can’t use Church buildings, phone lists, or official church venues for our advocacy, but we can freely advocate amongst people with whom we associate at church without running afowl of Church policy. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always appropriate.
I might not be on very solid ground here, but I see the Church’s policy of political neutrality as being partly based on a couple of principles: 1) that the resources of the Church should be devoted to accomplishing the mission of the Church and our work and worship should focus on the Gospel, not secular politics; and 2) that we don’t want political differences among us, which are inevitable, to divide our community. I know, some people think that the only reason that the Church has the policy of not endorsing specific candidates or platforms is so that they can maintain tax exempt status. That may be part of it. But the fact is that none of us know if this is the whole of it. If the consideration of U.S. tax law were off the table, I feel that the Church would still refrain from endorsing specific candidates and would not allow Church resources to be used to do so.
Either way, I’m glad for the effect of the policy of political neutrality on our community. I would hate for the Church itself to be as steeped in secular politics as it seems that many other churches are, both conservative and liberal.
So if, as citizens, we feel that there is a candidate worthy of our support and that of our brothers and sisters at Church, how should we go about advocating ? I think we should keep in mind the principles that I mentioned above, especially the one about not letting secular politics affect our Church community.
With that in mind, I’ll propose some guidelines for advocating for political candidates among Church members:
1) Never say anything for or against any politician or political party in any official Church meetings, functions, or venues.
2) If you want to host a political event or invite Church acquaintances to a political event, only invite those Church members with whom you are personally close and who you are certain would appreciate the invite.
3) If you are in a high profile leadership position, be extra cautious in adhering to the above.
Pretty simple. I think it’s important to follow those guidelines to avoid potential negative consequences for our Church community and it’s vitally important work.