Many observers would agree that current regulations on political speech by charities and religious groups are vague and need to be clarified. Disagreement surrounds every other aspect of the issue.
Last week, Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofit groups, sharply criticized a new report by the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations that recommended major changes in those regulations.
CAPRO was set up by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability in response to a request from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to coordinate a national effort on political expression and tax policy regarding nonprofits, and in particular religious organizations, according to The NonProfit Times.
The commission’s report recommended that clergy should be able to say whatever they believed was appropriate in the context of their religious services or other regular religious activities even if their comments related to political candidates, according to NPT.
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In the commission’s analysis, such communication would be permissible as long as the organization’s cost would be the same with or without it.
“We think it should not be a possibility,” Independent Sector’s president and chief executive Diana Aviv countered.
Although she agreed with the commission that the area lacked clarity, “the solution is not to gut everything,” she told NPT. “This actually contaminates our advocacy work.”