The restriction on church participation in political campaigns contained in the Internal Revenue Code operates uneasily. It appears to serve the useful purpose of separating the spheres of religion and electoral politics. But the separation often is only apparent, as churches in practice signal support for a particular candidate hi a variety of ways that historically have not cost them their exemptions. Although the limited enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service has reflected the sensitive nature of the First Amendment. values present, the federal government should provide more formal elaboration by statute or regulation. Focus on the use of funds seems warranted, to prevent the diversion of government subsidy from exempt purposes to political activity. Beyond that comparatively clear line, the practical difficulties of enforcement loom large.
Alan L. Feld, Rendering Unto Caesar or Electioneering for Caesar? Loss of Church Tax Exemption for Participation in Electoral Politics, 42 B.C.L. Rev. 931 (2001), http://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol42/iss4/7