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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Application of the Ban on Politicking by Churches in an Internet/Social Media Age

Brittany N. Brantley (J.D. 2013, Notre Dame), Note, Beyond Politics in the Pulpit: When Pastors Use Social Networks to Preach Politics, 38 J. Legis. 275 (2012):

[T]he development of the Internet and Social Networks have given churches and their pastors another medium to communicate with a broader number of people and spread their gospel. Increasingly, pastors are creating Facebook and Twitter pages to relay their religious messages. However, the problem arises when a Pastor uses those same pages to relay his personal feelings about politics. Part II of this note will provide an overview of the history of the political campaign prohibition. Part III will explain how churches have attempted to be completely exempt from the prohibition. Part IV will discuss the acts of Individuals of a section 501(c)(3) organization in their individual capacities. Part V will discuss how the development of the Internet has broadened the scope of the prohibition. It will also discuss how pastors use their websites and social media pages. Finally, Part VI will suggest some steps that the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission can take to ensure that section 501(c)(3) organizations are aware of what constitutes a violation on social media pages.

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