Maybe you’ve noticed that November, and a national election, are right around the corner. I have never been in a Unitarian Universalist congregation where members were not politically involved. I’ve also never been in a Unitarian Universalist congregation where members all held the same political views. The fact that we’re not all alike, added to the call of our Unitarian Universalist Principles to honor the inherent worth and dignity of all, can make the election cycle challenging!
Some time ago the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy created a guide for Unitarian Universalist congregations. It’s called “The Real Rules,” and it details what congregations and their representatives can and cannot do in the arena of political action. Adherence to the rules is needed for a congregation to keep its tax-exempt status secure.
There are three main points, helpfully summarized at the beginning of the document:
- Without limits on time, effort, and expense, a congregation and its representatives can engage in issue advocacy. Example: advocating for access to appropriate health care for everyone.
- With some limits on time, effort, and expense, a congregation and its representatives may engage in lobbying for specific pieces of legislation. The limit has been broadly set at less than 5% of money, staff, and volunteer time that goes into running the congregation.
- There is a total limit on partisan activity, what the IRS calls “political campaign intervention.” Congregations and their representatives can do *nothing* that advocates either for or against specific candidates or political parties. This includes activities such as donating meeting space or fundraising.
Please DO be involved as your heart and mind lead you, as a private citizen. DO advocate for the issues that align with our Principles. Use your precious right to VOTE. I’ll do the same.
Thank you for being here, for being part of this Fellowship, and for staying connected! I love you. We will get through this. Keep breathing and stay safe, everyone.
Rev. Lori Hlaban