The Rev. Robert L. Marciano, from the pulpit of his church, has chosen to interject himself and the power of the church into the presidential campaign. Many of the Catholic faithful applaud this. His dire warning that one’s “immortal soul” is in peril if one chooses to vote for Hillary Clinton received resounding support among the parishioners.
Aside from the fact that the good father offers no proof of such claim other than his faith, he has put himself and his church at risk of breaking the law.
The Catholic Church, as with most recognized religious sects, is a tax-exempt organization. As such they are restricted from certain types of political lobbying or candidate support in which they may engage.
The law is clear.
To remain tax-exempt under 501(c)(3), churches must abide by strict guidelines that prohibit election activity
- Cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office
- Cannot make any communication—either from the pulpit, in a newsletter, or church bulletin—which expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate for public office
- Cannot make expenditures on behalf of a candidate for public office or allow any of their resources to be used indirectly for political purposes (e.g., use their phones for a phone bank)
- Cannot ask a candidate for public office to sign a pledge or other promise to support a particular issue
- Cannot distribute partisan campaign literature
- Cannot display political campaign signs on church property
The test for such compliance is clear as well
- “Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office;
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval for one or more candidates’ positions and/or actions;
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election;
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed in the communication has been raised as an issue distinguishing candidates for a given office;
I would say the good father may have violated several, if not all, of these parameters. The church, like other groups, has engaged in behind the scenes manipulation of elections for years. It was one of the reasons for including the separation clause. To mitigate the power of religion over the faithful and its effect on secular matters.
Now, the good father may answer that he follows the teachings of a man who also broke the law. That is true. But, if one accepts the teachings of this man, he also accepted the consequences of his actions.
If you cannot the see the danger of such religious interference in the selection of political candidates you are blindly tossing yourself off a cliff.
I wonder how those who support these actions would react if an Imam issued a Fatwah against Mrs. Clinton? I bet the reaction of the Catholic faithful would be a bit different.