THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE CHURCH OF UNIVERSAL FELLOWSHIP
- The Church of Universal Fellowship believes that many of our individual and collective spiritual journeys call us to engage with the world around us, and, in particular, to engage in advocating for change through the political system for a more just and equitable world.
- The Church of Universal Fellowship also wishes to remain welcoming to all who wish to attend.
- Finally, the Church of Universal Fellowship values its legal status as a non-profit organization under US tax code and seeks to maintain this status.
Towards these ends the trustees hereby adopt the following principles to guide actions by the institution and by its members when using church resources with respect to political advocacy:
- No speech at the church, whether using a shared platform such as the worship service or circulated printed materials or in individual conversations, shall be hateful or exclusive. Hateful speech includes any speech that discriminates in contradiction to the human rights recognized by this state. It also includes suggesting people are unwelcome based on their political beliefs.
- All speech using church resources or that might be construed as representing the church including during the worship service, via bulletin boards, by circulated printed materials, and by the minister and members when they might be construed as a spokesperson for the church shall be compliant with US Tax Code requirements. In particular such speech may not advocate directly nor indirectly for a specific candidate for office. This does not prevent individuals from supporting candidates in individual conversations. It also does not prevent encouraging church members to contact our existing elected officials about issues that are otherwise compatible with this policy so long as it cannot be reasonably perceived as attempting to influence who is elected.
- Individuals may at the invitation of the minister or deacons conduct neutral information sessions in which they share balanced information about all candidates running for an office
- Advocacy on an issue (including supporting a ballot measure or encouraging currently elected officials to vote a particular way) by an individual at church is allowed under the following circumstances:
- It must conform with the requirements to be welcoming in clause #1.
- It must be compliant with clause #3 by focusing on an issue rather than advocating for a candidate in an election.
- It must be done by members or regular attendees of the congregation based out of their own convictions. Outsiders will not be invited to advocate.
- Use of shared time: It must be confined to a brief period of time during announcements, a portion of the worship service at the discretion of the minister, or an out-of-service educational event at the discretion of the deacons.
- Use of shared space: It may occupy a table or other small space at the fellowship gathering after the worship service to provide literature, collect signatures on a petition, assist in contacting elected representatives, or other similar activities; but it should be easy to avoid for those who do not want to participate. Additionally, under the invitation of the deacons, an individual can conduct an information session in a separate room from the fellowship gathering after the worship service.
- Use of church funds: It may not involve more substantial use of resources than specified in clauses (d) and (e). Specifically it should not involve use of church funds nor the use of a room at a time unconnected to a worship service.
- On issues (but not candidates) on which the church feels strongly called to advocate as a group, an individual may request the board of trustees to take a vote. If the board votes to support this issue the trustees may choose to allocate church resources such as facilities not during a worship service, mailing, phones or other financial resources.
- Collective benevolent giving (such as through the collection plate) shall target non-profit organizations that support and advocate for individuals in need, but will not support groups whose primary purpose is political lobbying for issues or candidates.