I have no idea if the Coon Rapids Baptist Church, is a real church with tax exempt status, but let’s assume for the moment that they are. The question then would be, is this church jeopradizing their tax exempt status by taking and explicit stand on a certain issue and telling people how they should vote on it? Here are two photographs I snapped this morning:
Clearly the church is saying that people should vote a certain way and clearly this is being done at a time rather close to the election. But, is this a violation of church-state separation?
Here is a document from the IRS (PDF file) that lays out the rules. Most of this is about candidates, not issues. Churches can take a stand on issues, but not if that stand links to candidates. So, for instance, a church taking an explicit anti-Obamacare position in the present election is probably violating IRS regulations. In Minnesota, the “Yes/No” vote being referred to here is an amendment to limit marriage to opposite sex couples, to be added the constitution. Almost every candidate has taken a stand on the issue, and DFLers (those are Minnesota Democrats) say “vote No” and Republicans say “vote Yes” pretty much down the line.
Personally, I think they are probably not violating IRS rules, but I also think the IRS rules could be revised. I think churches should not take positions that tell people how to vote at all, on candidates, and on issues. What do you think?