The Rules

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the IRS And What You Can And Cannot Do As a Religious Leader and in Religious Institutions

So you are motivated to be a champion of civic engagement as one aspect of your calling and mission as a religious leader, you have a good grasp of the history and now own additional tools and skills to lead healthy, generative dialogues and discussions about tough issues.  That still leave the question of what are the limits of engagement as a religious leader.  There are rules and you need to understand them — on the whole, they do not limit you.  Rather, the is great room for you to enter even the most political settings with integrity, authenticity and active engagement and the same is true for your congregation and community. This session will help you navigate what is within the rules, how “the way it would look” should affect you, and where you can move full blast ahead.

The format of this session is very different, so please make sure you read this opening thoroughly.

Rather than begin with the video, we have attached a short document that explains the IRS and accepted rules of civic engagement for religious 501c3’s and 501c4’s (if you do not know what these mean, you soon will).  Please download this document — it is a resource guide — and read it carefully.  If you are with colleagues, friends and/or congregants, you can stop, pose questions, explore together and finish the document.  Hopefully, you will feel confident that you understand The Rules!

Then, once you have mastered the rules, go to the video.  The video provides eight scenarios and poses questions of how you can navigate the situation described.  After each scenario, hit PAUSE and discuss until you feel you have come up with the best answer for the dilemma.  Continue this process of watching the scenario, pausing, discussing and solving, until you have completed all eight scenarios.  At that point, check your responses with the explanations we provide in the next written section you can download.


Document 1: The Rules, a Tax Code Resource Guide gives you the rules to study and help you prepare for the scenarios.

Document 2: TheAnswers gives you the explanations we provide. PLEASE DO NOT DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT 2 UNTIL YOU HAVE VIEWED THE VIDEO.


This is an interactive session with eight animated scenarios, better learned with colleagues, friends and/or congregants. Please stop at each PAUSE and participate in the activity.  Then hit play and continue the video.