Trainings for Religious Leaders
In recent years, Americans United has prioritized holding trainings with members of the clergy (and lay leaders at houses of worship). Accordingly, AU now sponsors special clergy trainings around the country. These meetings give clergy an opportunity to meet with experts from the Americans United staff for an interactive, hands-on session with plenty of time for questions, as well as to collaborate and learn from fellow religious leaders.
These sessions, titled “Keeping Sacred Spaces Sacred: A Discussion on Pulpit Politicking,” are facilitated discussions designed to lead to a deeper understanding of the role that faith communities can take in public engagement. The workshops take a positive stance, urging participants to envision what faithful and constructive public engagement looks like and how faith communities can engage in advocacy and organizing without causing others harm or violating the tax rules. The goal is to equip clergy and lay leaders with useful, practical information about what they can do politically, in the hope of channeling energies into appropriate forms of activism that engage congregations while respecting the laws of the land.
Watch: November 2016 Facebook Live Discussion with Faith Leaders
Letters to Religious Leaders
Every presidential election and mid-term election year, Americans United sends letters to houses of worship nationwide advising them on how to follow the law on pulpit politicking. The letters note that there are plenty of activities that religious leaders can take part in during elections years, such as registering voters in a non-partisan fashion, addressing important issues and reminding congregants that voting is good civic behavior. The only activity that is not permitted is the endorsement or opposition of candidates. (The letter also warns against the distribution of biased “voter guides,” often produced by partisan organizations that are not tax-exempt, that clearly promote one candidate over another.)
In 2016, we sent 100,000 letters to clergy from a cross section of U.S. religious denominations in all 50 states, explaining the "do's and dont's" when it comes to elections.